Brazilian Minister of Health Marcelo Queiroga has tested positive for Covid-19 while in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Brazilian president’s office announced Tuesday evening.
Queiroga was part of Jair Bolsonaro’s Presidential Committee, according to the statement, which added he was “doing well.” So far, other members of the Brazilian delegation have tested negative for the virus.
Queiroga said on Tuesday, September 21, 2021, that he would quarantine in New York for 14 days, and wouldn’t leave the United States with other members of his delegation. Some delegation members have canceled their participation due to the risk of infecting members from other countries, Queiroga said.
Queiroga, a cardiologist, is Brazil’s fourth health minister since the coronavirus pandemic began. He was appointed earlier this year.
He had been vaccinated with the Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine, the minister said last week. He did not say when he received the shot.
A spokesman for the UN secretary-general declined to comment, saying they had “a contact tracing protocol in place in case of cases arising” at the UN headquarters.
Earlier this week, Queiroga came under fire for responding to protesters in New York with an obscene gesture, according to CNN Brasil.
Videos went viral on social media, showing the moment he appeared in the window of a minibus and gestured to protesters in front of the residence of the Brazilian Mission at the UN, CNN Brasil reported.
Even before UNGA began on Tuesday, there were concerns the international gathering might pose a health risk — especially with much of the US still battling severe Covid-19 outbreaks. The US government issued a letter in August encouraging world leaders to consider
joining virtually, and not in person, to help avoid “a super spreader event.”
Still, more than 100 heads of state and government arrived in person for the event — with some of them unvaccinated.
Most vocal among them has been President Bolsonaro, who has long downplayed the severity of the pandemic and advocated for the use of unproven drugs. Last week, he declared point-blank on social media that he would not get vaccinated because he had once contracted the virus.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro fulfilled the tradition of delivering the first speech at the meeting, with the rest of the Brazilian delegation in attendance. The President has so far had meetings with several leaders, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Queiroga also shook hands with Johnson on Monday.
Photos posted by Gilson Neto, Brazil’s tourism minister, show members of the Brazilian delegation eating pizza outdoors in New York on Sunday. Nearly all were unmasked.
Shortly after the announcement that Queiroga had tested positive, Bolsonaro released a video on Twitter showing himself greeting and shaking hands with supporters in front of the hotel where he is staying, without wearing a mask.