Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for Covid-19 recently. This news has received a lot of mixed responses, evoking sharp reactions from across the world.
The major reason behind his criticism has been his oblivion to the pandemic. He famously dismissed the virus as “a little flu”, bragging that people like him who have had an athletic past “have nothing to worry about”, refusing to wear masks unless ordered by the judiciary and was unwilling to impose lockdown restrictions, instead promoted mass rallies. The ostrich-like policies of Bolsonaro made Brazil the second most affected nation with over 1.8 million cases and 72000 deaths.
However, he is not alone in this world. The club of virus deniers enjoys a wide diversity. England’s PM Boris Johnson wasted crucial months when the virus was spreading like wildfire and shied away from social distancing. He cheerfully insisted on shaking hands in public, then got infected himself and ended up in the ICU, overseeing an unprecedented health disaster in the UK.
POTUS Donald Trump famously prophesied that the virus will “just disappear”. His country paid the price by being the most affected country in the world. Another North American, Nicaragua Vice President Rosario Murillo invited Nicaraguans to participate in a ‘Love in times of Covid-19’ walk. In Europe, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko remarked that drinking vodka and working in fields with a tractor will “heal everyone”. In Africa, Tanzanian President John Magufuli argued for people to flock to churches as “Covid-19 cannot survive in the body of Jesus”.
In Asia, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow urged that the use of the word ‘coronavirus’ be censored. Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan was busy predicting Covid to be “just like a mild flu” till April. His first major step against Covid-19 was earmarking acres of land for Covid graves with a staunch denial to lockdown to build his trampled economy. He allowed religious congregations as per the whims of the mullas who believed that “a devout Muslim, who reads Namaz five times a day can never get infected by Covid because Allah is his saviour”. He was busy spending heavily on defence all along and is now repenting that “nobody is taking Covid seriously”, when the country cruised above 2.5 Lakh cases at a brisk pace and is having no resources to deal with it. Nepal too is heading for a crisis as cases have spiked, while PM Oli is still busy in petty politics with total disregard to the already fragile health sector of Nepal.
Given how these obstinate politicians have been manufacturing a preventable chaos to their own unfortunate people around the world, the misery of their respective country and their citizens would ensure that history will never be kind to them!
Apoorv Mishra, GATE Scholar, AIACTR, IPU, Delhi.