Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador revealed that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and he is experiencing mild symptoms.
Obrador, who has been criticized for his handling of his country’s pandemic, said on his official Twitter account that 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.”
López Obrador, 67, has long been criticized for not setting an example of prevention in public. He has rarely been seen wearing a mask and continued to keep up a busy travel schedule taking commercial flights.
He has resisted locking down the economy, noting the devastating effect it would have on so many Mexicans who live day to day.
Early in the pandemic, asked how he was protecting Mexico, López Obrador removed two religious amulets from his wallet and proudly showed them off.
“The protective shield is the ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’” López Obrador said, reading off the inscription on the amulet, “Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.
In November, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said that “Mexico is in bad shape” with the pandemic and urged its leaders be serious about the coronavirus and set examples for its citizens.
He didn’t name López Obrador, but said: “We would like to ask Mexico to be very serious.”
“We have said it in general, wearing a mask is important, hygiene is important and physical distancing is important and we expect leaders to be examples …” he added.
At the start of the pandemic López Obrador was criticized for still leaning into crowds and giving hugs. The eternal campaigner, López Obrador’s style of politics has always been very hands on and personal. As the pandemic grew he began limiting attendance to his events and maintaining his distance from supporters.
Despite his age and high blood pressure, as well as undergoing surgery after a heart attack, López Obrador said he wouldn’t jump the line for a vaccination. His concession appeared to be regular testing. In a country that only tests people with significant symptoms, López Obrador gets tested once a week.
At his age and with his existing health conditions López Obrador’s turn for a vaccine could still be weeks away as the country still works to vaccinate front line health workers.
As of Sunday night, Mexico had given nearly 630,000 doses of vaccine.
Mexico has registered nearly 150,000 COVID-19 deaths and more than 1.7 million infections. Hospitals in the capital have been near capacity for weeks as a surge of cases followed the holiday season.
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.