Brazil’s Bolsonaro recovering but no forecast for leaving hospital

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SAO PAULO —
Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s health is “evolving in a satisfactory manner” but the right-wing leader, who was hospitalized this week after complications from a 2018 stabbing, does not have a timeline for leaving hospital, his doctors said on Thursday.

The president flew from the capital Brasilia to Sao Paulo on Wednesday to undergo tests, and possible emergency surgery, to unblock an obstructed intestine after days of hiccups.

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has been hospitalized several times in the wake of the near-fatal campaign trail stabbing, which perforated his intestine. He also caught COVID-19 last year.

“Jair Messias Bolsonaro, remains hospitalized at Hospital Vila Nova Star, in Sao Paulo, evolving in a satisfactory clinical and laboratorial manner,” the note from the president’s doctors said, adding that non-surgical treatment would be continued.

“The President continues without a forecast for leaving hospital,” the note added.

The news comes after Bolsonaro’s son Flavio tweeted that his father was doing well and might not need surgery.

“President @jairbolsonaro evolved well, woke up in a good mood, and if this continues, he won’t need to undergo surgery!” Flavio Bolsonaro, a federal senator, wrote on Twitter.

Local news outlet G1 reported Bolsonaro was scheduled to undergo further tests on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the president’s office had said Bolsonaro, 66, could require emergency surgery after he was transferred from a hospital in Brasilia.

But after he arrived in Sao Paulo on Wednesday night, doctors at the Vila Nova Star hospital said the president would initially remain “under conservative management.”

“I thank everyone for their support and prayers,” Bolsonaro said in a Facebook post on Wednesday shortly after the news of his transfer to Sao Paulo was announced.

Along with the message, he shared a photo of himself shirtless with his eyes closed and lying in a hospital bed covered in sensors and cables. Next to him, stood what appeared to be a priest with a crucifix.

POLITICAL GAIN

The photo, which was accompanied with a text railing against his leftist opponents, led some to allege that Bolsonaro might be leveraging his condition for political gain. Many in Brazil believe the 2018 knife attack, and the widespread sympathy it engendered, was a crucial factor behind his election win.

A piece in newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said Bolsonaro’s hospitalization had allowed him to resurrect one of his “favorite personas … that of the political martyr.” It noted “that Bolsonaro did not invent his health condition” but said his current plight has “immediate utility” as he is “in one of the most pressing moments of his term.”

Bolsonaro’s popularity has sagged due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while senators are probing a simmering corruption scandal over his government’s purchase of vaccines. With over 537,000 COVID-19 dead, Brazil has the world’s second highest death toll from the virus after the United States.

However, a poll published by Datafolha on Thursday showed for the first time a majority of Brazilians say they think the pandemic is either “totally under control” or “partly under control” in the country, a potential boost for Bolsonaro.

(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun, Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Eduardo Simoes, writing by Gabriel Stargardter and Stephen Eisenhammer, Editng by Steven Orlofsky and Alistair Bell)

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