Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has tested positive for COVID-19, a development that comes as his country registers the highest levels of infections and deaths to date.
López Obrador, who has been criticized for his handling of Mexico’s pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public, said on his official Twitter account that his symptoms are mild and he is under medical treatment.
“I regret to inform you that I am infected with Covid-19,” he tweeted. “The symptoms are mild but I am already under medical treatment. As always, I am optimistic. We will all move forward.”
José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, said the 67-year-old López Obrador had a “light” case of Covid-19 and was “isolating at home.”
Mexico’s president wrote that while he recovered Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero would be taking over for him in his daily news conferences, at which he usually speaks for two hours without breaks each weekday.
Despite his age and high blood pressure, López Obrador has not received a vaccine shot even though Mexico has already received a batch of Pfizer-BioNTech doses. He has said that health workers would be the first ones to get them. Under the government plan, people over 60 will start being vaccinated in February.
López Obrador has rarely been seen wearing a mask and continued to keep up a busy travel schedule taking commercial flights.
He has also resisted locking down the economy, noting the devastating effect it would have on so many Mexicans who live day to day, despite the fact that the country has registered nearly 150,000 Covid-19 deaths and more than 1.7 million infections. A new wave of infections has pushed the health system of the country’s capital city close to saturation.
López Obrador’s announcement came shortly after news emerged that he would speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday about obtaining doses of the Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine.
Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said via Twitter the two leaders would speak about the bilateral relationship and supplying doses of the vaccine.
The vaccine has not been approved for use in Mexico, but the government is desperate to fill supply gaps for the Pfizer vaccine.
Besides López Obrador, other Latin American leaders who have tested positive for the coronavirus are Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, Guatemala’s Alejandro Giammattei, Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández and Bolivia’s then-interim President Jeanine Ánéz. All have recovered.