(CNN)Brazil's former health minister described Jair Bolsonaro's March visit to meet with US President Donald Trump as a "corona trip" Wednesday, noting that several members of the Brazilian president's team tested positive for Covid-19 after the trip.
Bolsonaro's March visit with Trump was a 'corona trip,' says Brazil's former health secretary
Bolsonaro and his aides met with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other American officials during their last US trip. Days later, Bolsonaro's press secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, tested positive for Covid-19.
Several more members of Bolsonaro's close circle contracted the virus soon after, raising concerns that the two presidents had been exposed as well.
"What I know is that it was soon after (Bolsonaro) made a visit to the United States that they went to Florida and they were all having dinner with Mr. Trump, and his communication guy ... came back in the plane with the disease and from the people that went with him, 17 tested positive in about 15 days after they arrived," Brazil's former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "So this trip was really a corona trip."
Bolsonaro tested negative for coronavirus in three separate exams that were released to the public on Wednesday afternoon by Supreme Court Justice Ricardo Lewandowski.
The release of the tests, which were administered between March 12 and March 17 after his return from the US, brought an end to a prolonged standoff in which Bolsonaro had refused to make results public, despite repeated legal rulings.
Despite several of his team contracting the virus, Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the threat of Covid-19.
Mandetta was fired from his role as health minister on April 16, following disagreements with the populist leader over the government's response to the outbreak.
"We were clearly in opposite sides," Mandetta told Amanpour. "But history will tell who was right and who was wrong. I think that the numbers talk by themselves."
Brazil has suffered one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world, with more than 180,000 confirmed cases and over 12,600 deaths so far, according to John Hopkins University.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said after Wajngarten's diagnosis that "both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time."
However, a picture posted by Wajngarten on his Instagram account showed him standing with both Trump and Pence.