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Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro, who hasn’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 yet, would be in breach of New York’s health protocols if he attends next week’s United Nations conclave that will be held in the city.
The UN debate hall was classified as a “convention centre”, which means rules for indoor gatherings will apply to the meeting, said the letter signed by New York city’s health commissioner.
Mr Bolsonaro, in a social media broadcast on Thursday, announced his plan to attend the UNGA meeting. He had told his supporters earlier this week that he remained unvaccinated.
“Next week I will be at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), where I will give an opening speech,” Mr Bolsonaro said in his address. He also said it will be “a calm speech, very objective, focused on the issues that interest us.”
While confirming that he will be attending the conclave, Mr Bolsonaro did not mention the guidelines proposed by city authorities and his own vaccination status.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has said that he could not impose the requirement on heads of state. But the move has already raised questions about Mr Bolsonaro’s participation, including whether he would come to New York as claimed.
Mr Bolsonaro has repeatedly said he does not intend to take the Covid-19 vaccine, claiming that the coronavirus infection he contracted last year has given him antibodies. Scientists, however, refute claims that antibodies have any long-term role in preventing Covid.
“I’m not going to take the vaccine, period,” he said in a television interview in December last year. “You think my life is at risk? That’s my problem, period.”
He also said last year that he will be the “last Brazilian” to get vaccinated and will not force anyone to get inoculated.
Over 585,000 people in Brazil have lost their lives because of the pandemic, which is the second-highest death toll in the world.