By Eduardo Simões
SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has no forecast date for leaving the hospital where he is being treated for an obstructed intestine linked to a 2018 stabbing, as he canceled a weekly broadcast later on Thursday and a weekend event with supporters.
His doctors at Sao Paulo’s Vila Nova Star hospital said in a statement that his situation was “evolving in a satisfactory manner” but there was no timeline for his release from the hospital. They added they would continue with non-surgical treatment.
Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, has been hospitalized several times since the near-fatal stabbing, which perforated his intestine. He also caught COVID-19 last year.
“Due to hospitalization, I communicate the impossibility of performing today’s live (social media address), and our trip to Manaus is postponed,” the president tweeted.
Bolsonaro had been due to travel to the northern city of Manaus this weekend for one of his motorcycle ride-alongs with supporters he has been doing in recent weeks, ahead of a likely re-election bid next year.
The president flew from the capital, Brasilia, to Sao Paulo on Wednesday for further medical tests, with his office saying he might require emergency surgery to unblock an obstructed intestine after days of hiccups.
But his son Flavio, a federal senator, tweeted on Thursday that his father was doing well, “woke up in a good mood, and if this continues, he won’t need to undergo surgery!”
On Wednesday, shortly after the news of his transfer to Sao Paulo was announced, Bolsonaro posted a photo of himself shirtless with his eyes closed and lying in a hospital bed covered in sensors and cables. Next to him, stood what appeared to be a priest with a crucifix.
“I thank everyone for their support and prayers,” Bolsonaro wrote.
The photo, which was accompanied with a text railing against his leftist opponents, led some to allege that Bolsonaro might be leveraging his condition for political gain. Many in Brazil believe the 2018 knife attack, and the widespread sympathy it engendered, was a crucial factor behind his election win.
An article in newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said Bolsonaro’s hospitalization had allowed him to resurrect one of his “favorite personas … that of the political martyr.”
It noted “that Bolsonaro did not invent his health condition” but that his current plight had “immediate utility” as he is “in one of the most pressing moments of his term.”
Bolsonaro’s popularity has sagged due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while senators are probing a simmering corruption scandal over his government’s purchase of vaccines. With over 537,000 COVID-19 fatalities, Brazil has the world’s second-highest death toll from the virus after the United States.
A poll published by Datafolha on Thursday showed for the first time, however, that a majority of Brazilians say they think the pandemic is either “totally under control” or “partly under control” in the country, a potential boost for Bolsonaro.
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