Politics

Brazilian health minister, in New York City for U.N. summit, tests positive for COVID

Marcelo Queiroga, Brazil’s health minister and one of several Brazilian diplomats who were in New York City for Tuesday’s United Nations General Assembly summit, has tested positive for the coronavirus, he tweeted Tuesday evening. It is not clear if Queiroga is vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I communicate to everyone that today I tested positive for #Covid19,” he wrote. “I will be quarantined in #USA , following all health safety protocols. Meanwhile, the @minsaude will remain firm in the actions to fight the pandemic in Brazil. let’s win this!”

Earlier in the day, Queiroga tweeted photos of himself from the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. In the photos, he appeared to be wearing a face mask.

It is not clear whether Queiroga attended the summit on Tuesday, which welcomed several world leaders, including Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and President Biden.

However, on Monday, Queiroga tweeted photos from a meeting he attended with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Bolsonaro. The health minister appeared to wear a face mask for the meeting.

“In New York with PR @jairbolsonaro, we met with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, @BorisJohnson,” he said. “I spoke about the progress of vaccination and pandemic control in . We also cover NHS collaboration c/o #SUS and possibilities for development of the Health Industrial Complex”

Johnson then traveled to the White House on Tuesday and met with Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The prime minister tested positive for COVID-19 last spring and has since been vaccinated.

Queiroga attended several other events while in New York City. On Monday he tweeted about a meeting he had with investors. And on Sunday, Bolsonaro’s Secretary of Government Luiz Ramos tweeted a photo showing several Brazilian officials, including Queiroga, eating pizza outside in New York City.

The issue of whether or not to require participants in Tuesday’s U.N. summit to be vaccinated became a point of contention leading up to the event. 

In a letter sent September 9, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office for International Affairs and the city health commissioner informed the president-elect of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, that the gathering would be covered by a local law requiring proof of vaccination for indoor venues like dining and entertainment.

“Indoor entertainment also includes ‘convention centers,’ and the U.N. General Assembly Hall qualifies as a convention center,” the letter said. 

Shahid wrote to all U.N. member states “strongly” supporting the measure and pledging to implement it. But then, in a diplomatic accommodation, Shahid sent a new letter Thursday saying, “I would like to advise delegations that the honour system related to vaccinations … remains in place.”

The decision to invoke the “honour system” came after Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia weighed in, saying he was “surprised and disappointed” by the idea of requiring proof of vaccination to enter the General Assembly Hall. Nebenzia called it “discriminatory” and contrary to the 1947 agreement between the U.S. and the U.N. that establishes the world body’s international status. 

Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the coronavirus last year and is unvaccinated against the virus, spoke at the summit on Tuesday. In attending the event, he defied New York City’s vaccine requirement.


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