Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández is the latest world leader to test positive for Covid-19.
In a televised address on Tuesday night, Hernández announced that he began feeling sick over the weekend and received his diagnosis yesterday. His wife, first lady Ana García de Hernández, and two presidential aides also tested positive.
Hernández, who is 51 years old, said he will continue to lead the country while in self-isolation, adding that he feels “enough strength and energy to continue forward and beat this pandemic.” The first lady, who is currently asymptomatic, is also self-isolating.
A statement from his office said that Hernández had “at all times maintained the preventive measures recommended by the health authorities,” but that “the nature of his job made staying completely isolated from others impossible,” according to CNN. The statement also urged Hondurans to continue taking preventative measures like social distancing and wearing masks.
Hernández has led Honduras since 2014 — and since then, he’s been a subject of widespread controversy. He has affirmed his commitment to fighting drug trafficking — but his brother was convicted for that exact crime in October, and Hernández has been accused of being an accomplice.
Hernández also narrowly won a second term in 2017 in a controversial election in which both candidates declared themselves the winner after a long and contentious vote count. US President Donald Trump backed Hernández’s victory despite protests in Honduras and calls from American politicians for new elections.
Honduras has reported nearly 10,000 total cases and more than 300 deaths, and despite concerns about the capacity of the country’s health care system, businesses began reopening last week. Hernández claimed that the economy could no longer handle being shut down after businesses closed and a curfew was issued in mid-March.
Brazil has borne the brunt of the pandemic in Latin America, reporting nearly 35,000 new cases within a 24-hour period on Tuesday. Brazil, which is approaching 1 million total cases, ranks second to the United States in total number of cases.
Hernández is the latest in a series of world leaders to test positive
Hernández is the first leader in Latin America to test positive for Covid-19, but several other political figures around the world have fought their own battles with the virus.
In March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he’d tested positive for the coronavirus. Initially, Johnson continued to work while in self-isolation, but his condition worsened, and he was admitted to the hospital and spent three nights in the intensive care unit. After receiving oxygen treatment in the ICU, Johnson was discharged from the hospital on April 12.
The coronavirus has also ravaged the Iranian government, with at least 24 members of Parliament reporting positive diagnoses, including two deaths. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan have both tested positive and recovered.
Hernández’s wife is also not the first spouse of a head of state to test positive. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, contracted Covid-19 in March and recovered later that month following a self-isolation period. The Ukrainian government announced yesterday that Olena Zelenska, the wife of president Volodymyr Zelensky, was hospitalized after contracting the virus.
Support Vox’s explanatory journalism
Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.