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Reporters Suing Brazil Leader Over His COVID Briefing

Jair Bolsonaro took off his mask after announcing he tested positive
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2020 11:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – A group of journalists in Brazil plans to sue President Jair Bolsonaro after he removed his mask during a Tuesday press conference in which he announced he had tested positive for COVID-19. Several masked reporters held microphones close to Bolsonaro's chest as he spoke from behind a mask. Bolsonaro then took several steps back and removed his face covering while continuing to speak in the reporters' direction. After describing symptoms including fever and muscle aches, the president said he wanted to show his face to prove he was fine, per Business Insider. Afterward, CNN Brasil, Record TV, and the state-run Brazil Communications Company said its reporters at the press conference would be quarantined, per Reuters. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Press Association said it planned to sue Bolsonarao for endangering journalists.

"The country cannot watch continued behavior that is beyond irresponsible and constitutes clear crimes against public health, without reacting," says the group’s president, Paulo Jeronimo de Sousa, per NPR. He accuses Bolsonaro of violating two articles in Brazil's penal code, which relate to disease transmission and exposure, as well as the recommended self-isolation period. Bolsonaro has already been criticized for a cavalier attitude toward the potentially lethal coronavirus, which he's referred to as "a little flu." Before his diagnosis, he was seen shaking hands and going without a mask. On Wednesday, Facebook said it had suspended a network of social media accounts linked to the president and his sons, which were used to spread Bolsonaro's claims that risks from the coronavirus pandemic are exaggerated, per Reuters. (Read more Brazil stories.)

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