Rio De Janeiro — Two Brazilian state governors who have criticized President Jair Bolsonaro’s calls to relax COVID-19 containment measures said Tuesday they had tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Governors Wilson Witzel of Rio de Janeiro and Helder Barbalho of the northern state of Para both posted videos to Twitter announcing their diagnoses and urging people to stay home to fight the spread of the virus.
Witzel, a leading proponent of closing non-essential businesses and ordering people to stay home, said he had started feeling unwell Friday, with a fever, sore throat and loss of smell, a key symptom of the virus.
“Today, the test result came back positive… Now, thank God, I’m feeling better, and will continue working while following my doctors’ advice,” said Witzel, 52.
“I ask you once again to stay home, because this disease, as everyone can see, spreads quickly and doesn’t spare anyone.” Barbalho, 40, who said he was asymptomatic, made a similar appeal.
“This virus is extremely contagious, it doesn’t recognize age or class. Everyone is exposed. So please stay home,” he said.
Social distancing policies have been attacked by Bolsonaro, who accuses them of needlessly wrecking Latin America’s biggest economy over a disease the far-right president has compared to a “little flu.” Witzel fired back last month that Bolsonaro’s defiance of guidelines from the United Nations and World Health Organization could be considered a “crime against humanity.” Brazil, the Latin American country hit hardest by the pandemic, has registered 1,532 deaths so far.