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LATIN AMERICA | 12-03-2021 01:45

Face mask row gets bawdy in Bolsonaro's Brazil

A roiling row over face masks in President Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil veers into not-safe-for-work territory.

A roiling row over face masks in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil veered into not-safe-for-work territory Thursday after his lawmaker son Eduardo told opponents where they could stick their criticisms of his improper mask use.

Bolsonaro has been openly hostile to expert advice on wearing masks to contain the spread of Covid-19, and he and his inner circle are rarely seen using them.

That unfamiliarity may explain why Eduardo, a congressman, was photographed meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday on a visit to Israel with his nose protruding from the top of his beige face mask, in what could have been a public-service announcement on improper mask use.

The nose-out no-no went viral on social media in Brazil, along with another incident in which an aide had to insist Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo put a mask on before exchanging an elbow air-bump with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi.

Eduardo, 36, did not take kindly to those who criticised him.

"I think it's a pity this good-for-nothing media we have in Brazil only cover masks. 'Oh, the mask, he's wearing a mask, he's not wearing a mask!'" he said Wednesday in a live broadcast online.

"Damn! We're over there working.... We had three layovers. You get there and sometimes you don't even have time to shower, you go straight into your meetings."

He then told his critics to stick it where the sun doesn't shine.

In Brazil, which had just registered a grim new record of more than 2,000 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours, that drew yet more criticism -- and mockery.

"Health experts would like to inform you that Covid-19 is not anally transmitted," fellow Congressman Alexandre Padilha tweeted Thursday.

"It seems absurd to have to explain it, but the Bolsonaro family has reduced us to this."

The left-wing lawmaker, a doctor and former health minister, said he planned to bring Eduardo's remarks before the lower house's ethics committee.

President Bolsonaro faces criticism from health experts for railing against face masks and stay-at-home measures to fight Covid-19, even as the pandemic has claimed more than 270,000 lives in Brazil -- the second-highest death toll worldwide, after the United States.

– AFP

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