Americas|Brazil’s health minister tests positive for the virus at the U.N. General Assembly.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/22/world/americas/brazil-health-minister-un-covid.html

Credit…Adriano Machado/Reuters

Brazil’s health minister announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday in New York, where he was attending the United Nations General Assembly along with the country’s defiantly unvaccinated president, Jair Bolsonaro.

The health minister, Marcelo Queiroga, tweeted that he would quarantine in the United States and was “following all health safety protocols.” Dr. Queiroga, who is a cardiologist, received the CoronaVac vaccine, made by Beijing-based Sinovac, early this year.

Dr. Queiroga had accompanied Mr. Bolsonaro during his visit to New York for the U.N. meeting, and was seen on video shaking hands with Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, when Mr. Johnson met Mr. Bolsonaro on Monday.

Before being diagnosed, Dr. Queiroga participated in meetings in New York with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and with President Andrzej Duda of Poland.

On Monday night, Dr. Queiroga made headlines in Brazil after he was filmed giving anti-Bolsonaro demonstrators the middle finger as he and other members of the government delegation left a dinner at the residence of the country’s ambassador to the United Nations.

The president’s office said in a statement issued late Tuesday that Dr. Queiroga would remain in the United States while he recovers and said he was “doing well.”

“We also inform that the other members of the delegation tested negative for the virus,” the statement said.

Dr. Queiroga had a busy agenda in New York. He had breakfast with a group of investors; participated in a meeting with Brazil’s first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro; paid tribute at the Sept. 11 memorial; and spoke to senior officials at the World Health Organization.

Dr. Queiroga became Mr. Bolsonaro’s fourth health minister in March. His tenure has been marred by allegations that senior ministry officials sought kickbacks as they negotiated the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic in South America’s largest country has been widely criticized. He has repeatedly downplayed the threat the virus posed, and his government was slow to secure access to vaccines even as Covid-19 overwhelmed hospitals and killed more than 590,000 people in Brazil.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bolsonaro used his speech at the General Assembly to defend the use of ineffective drugs to treat the coronavirus and argued that doctors should have had more leeway in administering untested medications for Covid-19. The far-right president added that he had been among those who recovered after “off-label” treatment with a malaria drug that studies have found ineffective to treat the disease.

Mr. Bolsonaro, who had a mild case of Covid-19 in July of last year, has said he was in no hurry to get vaccinated, which made for an awkward exchange during his meeting with Mr. Johnson, who hailed the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was developed in Britain at Oxford University.

“Get AstraZeneca vaccines,” Mr. Johnson said. “I’ve had it twice.”

Mr. Bolsonaro pointed to himself and said: “Not yet.”

His unvaccinated status also created hurdles in New York, where restaurants require that patrons show proof of inoculation for indoor seating. On Sunday, one of Mr. Bolsonaro’s ministers posted a photo on Twitter of the president eating pizza while standing on the street alongside several top aides — including Dr. Queiroga.

Originally posted on https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/22/world/americas/brazil-health-minister-un-covid.html