Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro ordered to wear mask in public

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Media captionThe BBC’s South America correspondent Katy Watson looks at how Bolsonaro has responded to the virus in Brazil

A judge in Brazil has ordered President Jair Bolsonaro to wear a protective mask when he is in public spaces in the capital, Brasilia, and the surrounding federal district.

The far-right president has been criticised for belittling the risk posed by the coronavirus.

He dismissed it as “a little cold” at the start of the pandemic.

He has also repeatedly appeared in public without a mask while greeting his supporters.

At one rally, he was filmed coughing without covering his mouth and on another occasion he was seen sneezing into his hand and shaking the hand of an elderly woman immediately afterwards.

Federal Judge Renato Borelli said that if the president – and other public officials – did not comply with the requirement to wear a mask when out in public, he would incur a fine of 2,000 reais ($387; £310) per day.

Brazil has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after the United States, with more than 1.1m confirmed cases and more than 51,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

Despite the high number of cases and fatalities, President Bolsonaro on Monday renewed his call for the easing of lockdown measures and the reopening of shops and businesses.

He said that the way the pandemic had been handled had “maybe been a bit over the top” and that the measures taken to contain it should not be allowed to become more damaging than the pandemic itself.

The president’s insistence that the economy should be prioritised has been deeply divisive and he has clashed with state governors who have introduced restrictions and movements and requirements to wear masks in public.