More Latin American Leaders Announce They're Infected With COVID-19

Jul 10, 2020

Health experts call Latin America and the Caribbean the world’s new hotspot for COVID-19 infection. And the pandemic isn’t sparing the region’s leaders.

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Thursday night the Western Hemisphere was still absorbing this week’s news that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for COVID-19. Then interim Bolivian President Jeanine Añez and Venezuelan Socialist Party leader Diosdado Cabello announced they too were infected.

Añez said doctors told her she would be able to "work in isolation" at home. Cabello, who is under federal indictment in the U.S. on drug charges, tweeted that he too was in isolation receiving treatment.

They’re not the only Latin American leaders who’ve contracted the new coronavirus. Last month Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández revealed he and his wife had tested positive. He was just released from the hospital last week.

Health experts hope these high-profile cases will prompt people in Latin America and the Caribbean to take the pandemic more seriously. Bolsonaro has come under intense criticism for dismissing coronavirus as a "hoax" and undermining Brazil's social distancing efforts. The country now has the world's second-highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths behind the U.S.

The region’s number of cases tripled last month to more than 2 million, and researchers at the University of Washington warn it could see an equally “tragic” rise between now and October.