WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Brazilian official who attended weekend events with President Donald Trump in Florida has tested positive for the coronavirus, marking the first time that someone known to have the virus was in close proximity to the president. Trump does not plan to be tested or go into self-quarantine, the White House said.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, tested positive just days after traveling with Bolsonaro to a meeting with Trump and senior aides in Florida. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday that “exposures from the case are being assessed, which will dictate next steps.”
“Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time,” Grisham said.
Wajngarten joined Bolsonaro on a three-day trip to the U.S. and on Saturday was at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, where he posted a photo of himself posing beside Trump. A video from the event also showed him standing directly behind both presidents as they addressed a crowd.
The meeting also included Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Brazil’s foreign minister Ernesto Araujo and Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, who is a federal lawmaker, among others. Vice President Mike Pence went to Mar-a-Lago that evening.
“We had dinner in Florida at Mar-a-Lago with the entire delegation,” Trump told reporters on Thursday in the Oval Office. “I don’t know if the press aide was there. But we did nothing very unusual.”
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 127,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 68,000 have so far recovered.
Wajngarten initially denied a report on Wednesday that he had been tested for the virus, saying on his social media account that his health was fine. He is now in self-quarantine at home, according to the statement.
A statement from Bolsonaro’s communications office on Thursday said that Wajngarten’s test results have come back positive and that the presidency is adopting preventive measures to ensure Bolsonaro’s health.
The government also communicated with U.S. authorities so they can take cautionary measures, the Brazilian statement said.
Two major newspapers reported Thursday that Bolsonaro has been tested for coronavirus, with results expected Friday, though Brazil’s presidential press office didn’t confirm when contacted by The Associated Press.
Bolsonaro’s health has been a focus in the wake of a 2018 stabbing on the campaign trail. Since the assassination attempt, he has already undergone four surgeries with a fifth upcoming. In December, he was taken to the hospital after slipping in the bathroom of the presidential residence and banging his head.
Grisham said that under U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, “there is currently no indication to test patients without symptoms, and only people with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine.”
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, who met Bolsonaro in Miami, said he will self-quarantine despite believing his personal risk is low.
Biller reported from Rio de Janeiro. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report from Washington.