Brazil’s Bolsonaro denies judge’s request to see negative coronavirus tests

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro said he has twice tested negative for coronavirus, but has refused a judge's request to see the actual results.

The surreal standoff is the latest flashpoint in a broader battle between a president who has repeatedly tested the limits of his power and democratic institutions.

Mr Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the coronavirus pandemic and has fiercely criticised efforts by governors and mayors to impose measures to control the spread of the virus, instead advocating for most people to get back to work.

But the courts have repeatedly curtailed him.

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Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil's far-right leader
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Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil's far-right leader
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MAY 03: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro participates in a protest against the National Congress and the Supreme Court amidst on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the Planalto Palace on May 03, 2020 in Brasilia. Brazil has over 96,000 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus and 6,750 deaths. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his daughter Laura (C) pose for a selfie with supporters outside his residence in Brasilia on Sunday
Supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro take part in a protest, in Brasilia
The National Congress is seen before a motorcade by supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, in Brasilia
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, seen at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia on April 29, 2020, has shown little empathy for victims of the virus
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during the swearing-in ceremony of his new Health Minister Nelson Teich (out of frame) at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on April 17, 2020. - Teich replaces Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who had several disagreements with President Jair Bolsonaro in conducting the fight against the COVID-19. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures as he speaks to supporters while leaving Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, on April 24, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (R) and his Minister of Justice and Public Security Sergio Moro chat during the launching ceremony of the Front Brazil Project, which aims at reducing the rates of violence in cities, at Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on August 29, 2019. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo credit should read EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
EVARISTO SA via Getty Images - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro delivers a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 24, 2020. - Brazilian Minister of Justice and Public Security, Sergio Moro, announce his resignation on Friday after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed the head of the Brazilian Federal Police, according to sources close to the popular former anti-corruption judge. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
EVARISTO SA via Getty Images - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro delivers a press conference in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 24, 2020. - Brazilian Minister of Justice and Public Security, Sergio Moro, announce his resignation on Friday after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismissed the head of the Brazilian Federal Police, according to sources close to the popular former anti-corruption judge. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends his supporters during a protest in favor of the government and and against the lockdown amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday, May 3, 2020. Demonstrators asked for military intervention against the Brazil's Federal Supreme Court and the National Congress. With no face mask, Bolsonaro gestured to protesters who were crowding in front of the building. The president came close to the grid and allowed the participants of the act to enter, who went up the ramp and extended a Brazilian flag. (Photo by Andre Borges/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - May 03: People participate in a motorcade and demonstration in favor of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and asking for the departure of Rodrigo Maia, president of Brazil's Lower House, amidst the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) in Esplanada dos Ministerios on May 03, 2020 in Brasilia. Brazil has over 96,000 confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus and 6,750 deaths. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - APRIL 24: Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, accompanied by several ministers of state, speaks during a press conference after the resignation of minister of Justice Sergio Moro at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 24, 2020 in Brasilia. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro coughs as he speaks after joining his supporters who were taking part in a motorcade to protest against quarantine and social distancing measures to combat the new coronavirus outbreak in Brasilia on April 19, 2020. (Photo by Sergio LIMA / AFP) (Photo by SERGIO LIMA/AFP via Getty Images)
A supporter of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro holds a sign demanding for military intervention (AI-5) from a car during a motorcade against quarantine and social distancing measures imposed by governors and mayors to combat the new coronavirus outbreak in Brasilia on April 19, 2020. (Photo by Sergio LIMA / AFP) (Photo by SERGIO LIMA/AFP via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - APRIL 16: An aerial view of an images of President of Brazil projected on a building's wall to protest against his government during a pans protest (Panelaco) on April 16, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Brazil's outgoing Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta was fired today by President Bolsonaro, after weeks of disagreements over the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Ministry of Health, as Thursday, April 16, Brazil had 30.425 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and at least 1924 recorded fatalities. (Photo by Miguel Schincariol/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - APRIL 16: President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro speaks during a press conference to announce Nelson Teich as newly appointed Health Minister amidst coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the Planalto Palace on April, 16, 2020 in Brasilia. President Bolsonaro has fired outgoing Minister of Health Luiz Henrique Mandetta over differences in coronavirus strategy. Brazil has over 30,000 confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus and 1942 deaths. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 25: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a press conference amidst the coronavirus (COVID - 19) pandemic at the Palacio do Alvorada on March, 25, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. Bolsonaro recently defended the nation's return to normality and the end of social distancing and quarantine. According to the Ministry of health, as today, Brazil has 2271 confirmed cases infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and at least 47 recorded deceases. (Photo by Andressa Anholete / Getty Images)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks to the press as he leaves from Alvorada Palace to Planalto Palace in Brasilia, on March 20, 2020. - South America's biggest country Brazil on Thursday announced it was closing its land borders to nearly all its neighbors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 21: Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro, jogs at the President's official residence during the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Palacio do Alvorada on March 21, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. On March 18th, Eduardo Bolsonaro published on his social media accounts that China was to blame for the pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which created a diplomatic tension. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
The American continent is projected on the statue of the Christ Redemeer atop Corcovado hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 18, 2020. - Two cabinet ministers and the head of the Brazilian Senate said Wednesday they had tested positive for new coronavirus, COVID-19, but President Jair Bolsonaro again warned against what he called "hysteria" surrounding the pandemic. (Photo by FLORIAN PLANCHEUR / AFP) (Photo by FLORIAN PLANCHEUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Messages of support in different languages are projected on the statue of the Christ Redemeer atop Corcovado hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 18, 2020. - Two cabinet ministers and the head of the Brazilian Senate said Wednesday they had tested positive for new coronavirus, COVID-19, but President Jair Bolsonaro again warned against what he called "hysteria" surrounding the pandemic. (Photo by FLORIAN PLANCHEUR / AFP) (Photo by FLORIAN PLANCHEUR/AFP via Getty Images)
The Asian continent is projected on the statue of the Christ Redemeer atop Corcovado hill in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on March 18, 2020. - Two cabinet ministers and the head of the Brazilian Senate said Wednesday they had tested positive for new coronavirus, COVID-19, but President Jair Bolsonaro again warned against what he called "hysteria" surrounding the pandemic. (Photo by FLORIAN PLANCHEUR / AFP) (Photo by FLORIAN PLANCHEUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Municipal workers remove the body of a person suspected of having died from COVID-19, from his home in Manaus, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, on May 4, 2020 during novel coronavirus pandemic. - The novel coronavirus has killed at least 249,372 people worldwide since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Monday. (Photo by Michael DANTAS / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Municipal workers arrive to pick up the body of a person suspected of having died from COVID-19, from his home in Manaus, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, on May 4, 2020 during novel coronavirus pandemic. - The novel coronavirus has killed at least 249,372 people worldwide since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1900 GMT on Monday. (Photo by Michael DANTAS / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS/AFP via Getty Images)
GUARULHOS, BRAZIL - MAY 04: People wearing protective masks wait in line outside a Caixa Economica Federal bank branch in Guarulhos city center to receive urgent government benefit amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 4, 2020 in Guarulhos, Brazil. The benefit is directed at informal workers, small individual business owners, self-employed workers, and unemployed people under vulnerability, and it has been granted as part of the efforts to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, Brazil has 105.222 positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and a total of 7.288 deaths. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - MAY 04: A passenger wearing a face mask walks in a subway station amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 4, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The use of protective masks against the coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes mandatory in the public transport of Sao Paulo State. The measure applies to the subway, trains, and buses. According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, Brazil has 105.222 positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and a total of 7.288 deaths. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - MAY 04: A passenger wearing a face mask boards a bus amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 4, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The use of protective masks against the coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes mandatory in the public transport of Sao Paulo State. The measure applies to the subway, trains, and buses. According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, Brazil has 105.222 positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and a total of 7.288 deaths. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - MAY 04: A passenger wearing a face mask leaves a subway station amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 4, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The use of protective masks against the coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes mandatory in the public transport of Sao Paulo State. The measure applies to the subway, trains, and buses. According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, Brazil has 105.222 positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and a total of 7.288 deaths. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)
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They ruled that governors and mayors have the power to determine shutdown measures, overturned the president's decree allowing religious gatherings and are trying to force the release of his Covid-19 test results to end speculation he may have lied.

Mr Bolsonaro's supporters have denounced the decisions as part of a plot to derail his presidency, and the president himself said he is a victim of meddling by obstructionist judges.

He said: "Enough with the interference. We're not going to allow any more interference.

"Patience has run out. We're going to take Brazil forward."

The fight over his coronavirus test results has produced a particularly unusual chapter.

Concerns about Mr Bolsonaro's health began in March, when the president returned from the US, and local media reported in the weeks that followed that more than a dozen members of his delegation tested positive for the coronavirus.

Initial unconfirmed reports indicated Mr Bolsonaro had tested positive himself but then he announced on social media that his results had come back negative.

He has refused to produce the actual document, citing medical privacy.

Last week, a federal judge in Sao Paulo ordered Mr Bolsonaro to present the results in response to a request from the O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Mr Bolsonaro's attorney-general instead sent a summary of the results, the office said in a statement.

The judge again insisted on the actual results, and a separate judge on Saturday gave Mr Bolsonaro's team five days to comply.

Mr Bolsonaro has also further muddied the waters recently. Following the lawsuits, he said last week he had "perhaps" contracted the virus without knowing it.

However, he has kept appearing in public without a mask, addressing crowds and shaking well-wishers' hands — on one occasion, after wiping his nose.

His support among a core base has long seemed nearly unshakable.

While a positive result might not challenge that, it would likely erode support from moderates – the portion of people who are not die-hard but believe his policies are reasonable, said Lucas de Aragao, partner at the Brasilia-based consultancy Arko Advice.

He said: "This is why he is bashing the governors and judiciary.

"The Bolsonaro government and his most influential advocates are always looking for a common enemy, because this creates a sense of community among supporters."

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