Guardian News and Media Brasilia
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has been bitten by an emu-like bird that he tried to feed while under coronavirus quarantine at the presidential palace, local media has reported.
According to the Metropóles site, the bird “pecked” at Bolsonaro when he tried to feed it during a stroll around the palace grounds in Brasília on Monday.
Opponents of the far-right populist leader, a former general who presents himself as a man of the people by wearing flip flops and football shirts, eating hotdogs and visiting bakeries, seized on the incident.
“100 % ema,” Communist party congresswoman Jandira Feghali posted on Facebook.“Even the animals recognise when someone is pernicious,” tweeted journalist Solange Mateus.“Nature is healing,” tweeted biologist Flávio Souza.
The 65-year-old has been isolating at the palace since announcing he had tested positive for Covid-19 on July 7.
On Monday he announced that he plans to take another test as he “can’t stand” being in isolation.
The result of the test, which was scheduled for later yesterday, “should be out in a few hours, and I will wait quite anxiously because I can’t stand this routine of staying at home. It’s horrible,” Bolsonaro said in a telephone interview with CNN Brazil, from his official residence at the Alvorada Palace.
During his interview, Bolsonaro said he felt “very well” and has no fever or problems breathing. He also has not lost his sense of taste, one of the most common symptoms of Covid-19.
“Interacting with the animals has been one of Bolsonaro’s distractions,” the Estadao newspaper reported, publishing a sequence of photos showing the president wearing a mask as he fed the flock of birds and then sharply withdrawing his hand.
The ema, or rhea americana, is a South American bird that can’t fly and is distantly related to emus and ostriches.
Since the beginning of the crisis, the far-right president has dismissed the seriousness of the epidemic and criticised containment measures ordered by governors in Brazilian states.
Brazil has the second highest confirmed number of Covid-19 cases and deaths globally.
“This ema represents us,” tweeted Margarida Salomao, a congresswoman for the Workers’ party.
During his weekly Facebook Live post last Thursday, Bolsonaro said that after feeling unwell, he had started taking one hydroxychloroquine tablet every day.
The drug, originally tested to fight malaria, has been pushed as a treatment for Covid-19 in many countries - but its effectiveness has not been formally proven and the issue is deeply dividing the global scientific community.
“I took (hydroxychloroquine) and it worked, and I’m fine. And let those who criticise it at least offer an alternative,” he said.
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