By Debora Moreira and Pedro Fonseca
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who met with Donald Trump in the United States less than a week ago, will be retested for coronavirus following a negative test on Friday, Brazil’s Estado de S.Paulo newspaper reported.
The test will be done early next week in order to rule out any chance the president has the virus, the newspaper said, without naming the source of the information. A representative for Bolsonaro’s press office declined to comment.
Bolsonaro and a large Brazilian entourage, including cabinet ministers, met with Trump and other senior U.S. officials last weekend at Mar-a-Lago. One of the party, Bolsonaro’s communications secretary Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday and is in quarantine at his home.
Charge d’Affairs Nestor Forster Jr. at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, who was also present at the Trump dinner, has also now tested positive, GloboNews television channel reported late on Friday.
Bolsonaro said earlier in the day that he had tested negative for coronavirus, in a post on his Facebook page.
“Tests negative for COVID-19 Mr President of the Republic Jair Bolsonaro,” the post said, above an old image of Bolsonaro making an obscene local gesture in an apparent response to some media reports that a first test had been positive.
Estado de S.Paulo said Bolsonaro would remain isolated in quarantine at his official residence until the beginning of next week, citing an unnamed member of the president’s medical staff who said Bolsonaro needed to be isolated for seven days from the time of being in contact with someone infected with the virus.
Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo tweeted earlier on Friday that his test had come back negative. Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva tested negative as well, the ministry said in a statement.
The results for others in the Brazilian delegation, including Bolsonaro’s wife Michelle and Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, have not yet been published.
However, Bolsonaro’s lawyer, Karina Kufa, who was part of the delegation, tested positive, according to the O Globo newspaper. Senator Nelsinho Trad, who also formed part of the group, said late Friday that his test had also come back positive.
“Life continues normally, we have many challenges ahead and many problems to solve,” Bolsonaro said outside his official residence after news of the negative test result.
He waved to supporters but said it was better not to shake their hands.
The testing of Bolsonaro and many in his inner circle has changed the president’s tone on a virus that he dismissed on Tuesday as largely a “fantasy.”
In a stern address to the nation on Thursday evening, Bolsonaro asked his supporters to call off marches planned for the weekend in order to avoid spreading the disease.
Brazil has confirmed 98 cases of the coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Health.
Fox News and a local Brazilian newspaper earlier reported Bolsonaro’s initial test for coronavirus was positive.
“He tested negative full stop,” Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo later told Fox News. He did not directly answer a question as to whether a first test was positive.
Trump told reporters on Friday he would likely be tested “fairly soon” but denied this was related to his contact with Wajngarten, beside whom he was photographed at Mar-a-Lago.
“There was somebody that they say has it. I have no idea who he is, but I take pictures and it lasts for literally seconds,” he said.
“I did sit with the president (Bolsonaro) for probably two hours, but he’s tested negative, so that’s good.”
(Reporting by Débora Moreira in Rio de Janeiro, Gabriela Mello in Sao Paulo, Maria Carolina Marcello in Brasilia and Jeff Mason and Lisa Lambert in Washington; Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer and Jake Spring; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Richard Pullin)