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Coronavirus stalks the corridors of power: How COVID has affected world leaders

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro adjusts his protective face mask at a press statement. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo

Coronavirus stalks the corridors of power: How COVID has affected world leaders

COVID-19 has infiltrated several seats of power. Here's how each administration dealt with it.

Coronavirus stalks the corridors of power: How COVID has affected world leaders


President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, adding he was in good health despite running a fever. The right-wing populist, who has played down the severity of the virus which he has called a “little flu”, took the test on Monday after developing symptoms.

In a television interview, Bolsonaro said he began feeling ill on Sunday and has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug with unproven effectiveness against COVID-19.

Brazil has the world’s second-largest outbreak behind the United States with more than 1.6 million confirmed cases and 65,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Bolsonaro has openly defied the consensus among Brazilian public health experts for slowing the outbreak. He has criticised lockdown and social-distancing orders issued by regional governors and mayors, saying their economic damage is worse than the disease.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson spent two weeks recovering from a bout of COVID-19 at Chequers, his country residence, before returning to Downing Street on April 26.

Johnson, 56, had previously spent three nights in intensive care in a London hospital with the illness. Leaving St Thomas’ hospital on April 12, he thanked staff for saving his life.


President Donald Trump has consistently disregarded guidance from health authorities urging people to wear protective masks in close company to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

He has not worn a mask in public – even mocking Joe Biden, his Democratic rival in the upcoming election, for wearing one – while also not practising social distancing at various public events. In April, Trump said he could not picture himself wearing a mask while greeting “presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens”.

But several White House aides, staff members of Trump’s re-election campaign and Secret Service agents have tested positive for the coronavirus, as has his personal valet and Kimberly Guilfoyle, his son Donald Jr.’s girlfriend who serves as a top fund-raising official for his campaign.


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in May he had tested positive and received treatment in hospital, before recovering.

President Vladimir Putin worked remotely from his residence outside Moscow and held meetings via video conference from March until late May, when he returned to the Kremlin.

Putin is tested for COVID-19 every three days, special disinfection tunnels have been installed at the Kremlin and his official residence through which visitors must pass, and people he meets are tested beforehand.

Other high-profile Russians to have suffered from the virus include Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and three other cabinet ministers.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, 48, went into quarantine in March after his wife was diagnosed with the coronavirus. He held daily news conferences in the front garden of his residence, with reporters lobbing questions at him from a distance.

With his wife in isolation in one area of the 22-room Rideau Cottage – and no staff due to the family’s quarantine – Trudeau turned to Lego to entertain his three children while he chaired cabinet meetings by teleconference and fielded calls with world leaders.

Daily meals were dropped at the 150-year-old house on the wooded grounds of the governor general’s residence near downtown Ottawa. Trudeau now splits his working day between home and his main office in downtown Ottawa.


President Juan Orlando Hernandez, 51, left hospital last week where he underwent treatment for pneumonia after testing positive for COVID-19.


Bolivia‘s President Jeanine Anez said on Thursday she has tested positive for the coronavirus, tweeting that she was “well” and continuing to work while in isolation.

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