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The president of Honduras is the latest world leader to test positive for the coronavirus

The coronavirus is surging in Latin America. Now, the Honduran president is hospitalized.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández speaks during a press conference to confirm the first two cases of Covid-19 in the country at the Permanent Emergency Operations Center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on March 11, 2020.
Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty Images

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández is the latest world leader to test positive for Covid-19. He was hospitalized with pneumonia on Wednesday, one day after he announced his coronavirus diagnosis.

Hernández is in good condition and is receiving intravenous medicine, a Honduran health agency spokesperson said Wednesday. Doctors recommended he be hospitalized after diagnosing him with pneumonia after taking x-rays and lab work.

In a televised address on Tuesday night, Hernández announced that he began feeling sick over the weekend and received his diagnosis the next day. 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.

Hernández’s diagnosis comes as coronavirus cases surge in Latin America, leading the World Health Organization to declare the region the new epicenter of the pandemic.

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.