COVID-19: Mexican president Obrador tests positive amid record cases

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By Euronews  with AP
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has tested positive for COVID-19
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has tested positive for COVID-19   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File

Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said he has tested positive for COVID-19, amid record levels of infections and deaths in the country.

Obrador, who has faced criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his behaviour during it, tweeted on Sunday that his symptoms are mild and he is receiving medical treatment.

He joins a host of world leaders to have been infected with COVID-19 - including other leaders in Latin America such as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Guatemala’s Alejandro Giammattei, Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández and Bolivia’s then-interim President Jeanine Ánéz.

Making the announcement López Obrador said “like always, I am optimistic” and said the country will move forward together.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, said 67-year-old López Obrador had a “light” case of COVID-19 and was “isolating at home.”

The president has rarely been seen with a mask on, and has kept up a busy travelling schedule with commercial flights.

Early in the pandemic, asked how he was protecting Mexico, López Obrador removed two religious amulets from his wallet, saying “the protective shield is the ‘Get thee behind me, Satan... Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.”

Following this, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, not naming López Obrador, said: “We would like to ask Mexico to be very serious... We have said it in general, wearing a mask is important, hygiene is important and physical distancing is important and we expect leaders to be examples.”

At the start of the pandemic López Obrador was criticized for still leaning into crowds and giving hugs.

On Friday, Obrador posted a photo of himself, foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, a translator and former chief of staff Alfonso Romo, all gathered around a table for a phone call with US President Joe Biden - none of them was wearing a mask.

The foreign relations department has not answered questions about whether Ebrard has been tested.

Mexico is currently seeing its highest number of daily cases and deaths so far in the pandemic, with a total of 1,732,290 confirmed cases and 147,614 deaths.