Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19, but his symptoms were mild and he was feeling “optimistic”.
“I regret to inform you that I am infected with COVID-19. The symptoms are mild, but I am already on medical treatment, ”he said in a message on Twitter.
“As always, I am optimistic. We will get out of it together, ”he said.
Lopez Obrador, 67, has been criticized for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Mexico, including taking too long to impose a lockdown at the start of the pandemic and for continuing to organize rallies and greet supporters with handshakes and hugs. He has also rarely been seen wearing a mask.
In March of last year, when asked how he was protecting Mexico, Lopez Obrador removed two religious amulets from his wallet and proudly displayed them.
“The protective shield is the ‘Get behind me, Satan,’” said the president, reading the inscription on the amulet, “Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.”
Then in July he said, “I’m going to put on a mask. Do you know when? When there is no corruption ”.
The Mexican president has also resisted the lockdown of the economy, noting the devastating effect it would have on so many people who live day to day.
Mexico is in the grip of a second wave of the pandemic and has the fourth highest death toll in the world after the United States, Brazil and India. The capital, Mexico City, has been on high alert since mid-December, with more than 90% of hospital beds full due to the surge in cases.
The Department of Health on Sunday reported 10,872 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 530 deaths, bringing its total to 1,763,219 infections and 149,614 deaths.
The actual number of people infected and fatalities is likely much higher than the official tally, officials say.
In November, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, urged Mexican leaders to be more serious about the coronavirus and set an example for its citizens, saying “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic.
He did not name Lopez Obrador, but said: “We would like to ask Mexico to be very serious.”
“We have said in general, wearing a mask is important, hygiene is important and physical distance is important and we expect leaders to be examples,” he added.
As the pandemic increased, Lopez Obrador began to limit attendance at his events and keep away from supporters. But he continued his travels to different parts of the country and visited the northern state of San Luis Potosi on Friday.
Jose Luis Alomia Zegarra, director of epidemiology in Mexico, told reporters on Sunday that Lopez Obrador had a “mild” case of COVID-19 and that he was “isolating himself at home”.
“A team of medical specialists is taking care of the president’s health,” he added.
Lopez Obrador said on Twitter that his Home Secretary Olga Sanchez would host his morning press conference in his absence.
He also said he would participate in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday about Mexico’s possibility of acquiring the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine.
Mexico launched a mass vaccination program on December 24 using the coronavirus vaccine developed by US drug giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.
He also licensed the shooting developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.
As of Sunday evening, Mexico had administered nearly 630,000 doses of the vaccine.
Lopez Obrador has said he will wait until March, when people over 65 are expected to be vaccinated.