Coronavirus crisis: Brazil health minister at UN has COVID-19

Anthony BoadleAAP
Brazil Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, who was at the UN General Assembly in NYC, has COVID-19.
Camera IconBrazil Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, who was at the UN General Assembly in NYC, has COVID-19. Credit: EPA

Brazil’s health minister has tested positive for COVID-19 hours after accompanying President Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Marcelo Queiroga will remain in New York in quarantine, the government’s communications office said on Tuesday.

“The minister is doing well,” the statement said. It added that the rest of the delegation tested negative for the virus.

Queiroga told CNN Brasil that he had worn a mask the entire time that he was in the UN building.

Bolsonaro, a vaccine sceptic, defied UN rules that asked all those attending the assembly to be vaccinated. He has bragged about not getting vaccinated.

In his speech to world leaders at a meeting where the global coronavirus pandemic was top of the agenda, Bolsonaro said his government did not support the use of a vaccine passport and stood by treatment with unproven drugs such as the anti-malarial hydroxychloroquine.

He said Brazil’s vaccination campaign against COVID-19 had been successful and that all adults who wanted a vaccine would be fully inoculated by November.

With unvaccinated diners barred from eating in New York restaurants, Bolsonaro and his entourage ate pizza on a footpath on their first night in the city on Sunday.

The health minister was the second member of the Brazilian delegation in New York to have tested positive. A young diplomat who was part of an advance team preparing Bolsonaro’s visit tested positive on the weekend and was isolated.

COVID-19 has killed 591,440 Brazilians in the world’s second-deadliest outbreak after the United States.

As vaccination advances in the country, the rolling 14-day average of COVID deaths has fallen to 519 a day, compared with almost 3000 at the peak of the pandemic in April.

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