Brazil's Bolsonaro chats with coronavirus-infected health minister wearing no mask

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FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during an inauguration ceremony of the new Health Minister

Brazil's Bolsonaro chats with coronavirus-infected health minister wearing no mask

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro speaks during an inauguration ceremony of the new Health Minister

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday visited Health Minister General Eduardo Pazuello, who has COVID-19, and made his point that the disease is easy to recover quickly from with the help of the controversial drug chloroquine.

The two men chatted and joked without wearing masks in Pazuello's hotel room, seen in a video posted on social media by the president, who recovered from a bout of COVID-19 in July.

Bolsonaro, who has minimized the gravity of the coronavirus and opposed lockdown measures by governors and mayors in Brazil, used the meeting to advocate the early use of anti-malaria drug chloroquine, even though scientists say it is no cure and in clinical trials chloroquine and the related drug hydroxychloroquite have failed to show a benefit in treating COVID-19,

"This is another concrete case of someone who took chloroquine and it worked," Bolsonaro said. "This is an alternative, when doctors prescribe it."

Pazuello, an active-duty Army general, said he felt tired on Sunday, but went to work on Monday and felt worse that night, with headaches and fever. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 the next day.

With Pazuello, roughly half of Bolsonaro's 23-member Cabinet have now caught COVID-19, besides the president and the first lady.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle)