A group representing Brazilian journalists say they are planning to file a lawsuit against President Jair Bolsonaro for endangering their health after he took off his mask to speak with reporters about his COVID-19 diagnosis.
“Despite knowing he was infected with COVID-19, President Jair Bolsonaro continues to act in a criminal manner and endanger the lives of others,” Paulo Jeronimo de Sousa, president of the Brazilian Press Association, or ABI, said in a statement.
De Sousa claims that Bolsonaro, one of the most skeptical world leaders about the seriousness of the coronavirus, “broke the isolation recommended by the doctors” and “received journalists from media he considers to be supportive” of his policies to “personally inform them” that he is infected with the virus.
During a Tuesday press conference, Bolsonaro announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. He then backed away from reporters and removed his mask, to show that he was doing well.
The ABI says the 65-year-old president violated Article 131 of the country’s criminal code that includes transmitting to others a serious disease of which he or she is infected, or any act that may cause contagion, under penalty of one to four years in prison as well as a fine.
“The country cannot watch continued behavior that is beyond irresponsible and constitutes clear crimes against public health, without reacting,” De Souza said.
Three television stations covered Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 press briefing: CNN Brasil, TV Record, and TV Brasil.
Bolsonaro told reporters he had undergone a lung X-ray after feeling feverish. He also had muscle aches and said he was physically drained.
Brazil’s controversial president said his fever went down after he took hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that President Trump has frequently touted, but one that has failed to show any efficacy in several studies.
Following Bolsonaro’s announcement that he had tested positive for COVID-19, he posted a Facebook video showing him taking hydroxychloroquine.