Published  Monday, July 13, 2020

Covid-19 infects Latin American
leaders, says report



By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services


The covid-19 pandemic is sweeping through the leadership of Latin America, with two more presidents and powerful officials testing positive this week for the new coronavirus, adding a destabilizing new element to the region’s public health and economic crises, reported the Voice of America Journal, VOA,  on Sunday.

According to a VOA report, in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, 65, announced his illness Tuesday and is using it to publicly extol hydroxychloroquine, the unproven malaria drug that he’s been promoting as a treatment for covid-19 and now takes himself.

Bolivian interim President Jeanine Añez, 53, made her own diagnosis public Thursday, throwing her already troubled political prospects into further doubt.

And in Venezuela, 57-year-old socialist party chief Diosdado Cabello said Thursday on Twitter that he, too, had tested positive, at least temporarily sidelining a larger-than-life figure considered the second-most-powerful person in the country.

Another powerful figure, Venezuela’s Oil Minister Tarek El Aissami, announced Friday he has the virus.

An Associated Press review of official statements from public officials across Latin America found at least 42 confirmed cases of new coronavirus in leaders ranging from presidents to mayors of major cities, along with dozens, likely hundreds, of officials from smaller cities and towns. In most cases, high-ranking officials recovered and are back at work. But several are still struggling with the virus.

Many leaders have used their diagnoses to call on the public to heighten precautions like social distancing and mask wearing.

El Salvador’s Interior Minister, Mario Durán, was diagnosed on July 5, becoming the second Cabinet member there to fall ill. Durán was receiving treatment at home on Friday.

Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández announced June 16 that he and his wife had tested positive, along with two other people who worked closely with the couple. He was released from the hospital July 2.

In the Caribbean, Luis Abinader, the newly elected president of the Dominican Republic, contracted and recovered from covid-19 during his campaign.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei placed his entire Cabinet and their staff in quarantine Thursday after one of his ministers tested positive.

In Bolivia, officials said the interim president Añez, had not been displaying symptoms and was in good spirits in her official residence on Friday.

At least six other Bolivian ministers and vice ministers have been infected, and at least eight staff members.



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