A driver for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was rushed to the hospital Tuesday with a respiratory illness and was tested for the coronavirus, according to a report. 

The report comes as protesters around the country banged their pots and pans on their balconies for the fifth night in a row as a sign of protest against Bolsonaro's response amid the global pandemic. 


The unidentified driver was transported to the hospital in Brasília, the federal capital of Brazil, and waiting for his test results to come back, the Correio Braziliense newspaper reported. 

At least 23 people in Bolsonaro’s circle, including his U.S. ambassador, chief foreign policy adviser and communications chief, have contracted the novel virus, The Guardian reported. 

All were members of a delegation that traveled to Mar-a-Lago for a dinner on March 7 – prompting fears President Trump or Vice President Mike Pence had been exposed to the virus. 

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro before attending a working dinner at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 7, 2020. Picture taken March 7, 2020.  (Reuters)

The communications chief, Fabio Wajngarten, was photographed with Trump and Pence at the same event. He became the first in Bolsonaro’s circle to test positive for COVID-19 just days later on March 12, Axios reported.

Bolsonaro himself denied reports he tested positive for the coronavirus but has refused to publish his medical test results.  He had rejected health official’s advice to self-quarantine after his trip to Florida – and instead shook hands and took selfies with a crowd of supporters.

At least 34 people have died from the coronavirus in Brazil out of the 1,965 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University Tuesday afternoon. 

In an interview Saturday, Bolsonaro slammed the governors of states including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo for ordering large-scale quarantines, saying the measures were irresponsible and fueled a “climate of terror,” The Guardian reported. 

“It’s an excessive dose of medicine – and too much medicine becomes poison,” Bolsonaro said. “I’m the manager of the team and the team is playing very well.”

Meanwhile, Brazilian Health Minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, told NPR last week that the government’s healthcare system, grappling with shortages of intensive care beds and other protective medical equipment, would likely collapse by the end of April. 


“Scientists around the world are fighting to find a treatment for Covid-19. In Brazil, meanwhile, the current government’s incompetence is found to be incurable,” the conservative Estado de São Paulo newspaper wrote on Friday. 

“We are being invaded by an invisible enemy. We need people who are capable of leading the nation,” Janaina Paschoal, a rightwing congresswoman and once Bolsonaro’s vice-presidential running mate, also said, according to The Guardian.