Flying in the face of flu: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters upon arrival arriving at Planalto Palace in Brasilia. Picture: AFP/Evaristo SA
Flying in the face of flu: Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters upon arrival arriving at Planalto Palace in Brasilia. Picture: AFP/Evaristo SA

"Go back to work, you bum!"

That is the sound a permanently lost vote makes as you go out for a stroll, a hotdog and a Coke while your country counts its Covid-19 dead — 965 that very day.

Not that Brazil’s populist, sweary president, Jair Bolsonaro, seemed at all bothered by the angry shouts of protesters or by people banging pots and pans from their windows and balconies as he cruised by, stopping for a selfie with a (masked) young girl and battling to keep the trimmings from his evening snack under control.

Brazil now trails the US in second place as the world’s most infected country — more than 23,000 dead out of 347,000 infections — while its leader sneers.

Things are bad when your behaviour makes the current leader of the free world look good.

President Donald Trump may be a fount of bad advice — bleach and hydroxychloroquine, anyone? — but he at least has got over calling Covid-19 no worse than the flu. Then again, about 100,000 dead in less than three months would certainly focus a person’s mind.

His counterpart down south seems to want to prove that whatever the US can do, Brazil can do better. Namely, ignore the arrival in-country of a lethally infectious virus, then dismiss it as "a little flu" and rail at the governors keeping some of the world’s most populous cities under lockdown as infection rates surge.

On the upside, Bolsonaro, unlike Trump, at least wears a mask in public, though that night it was around his neck most of the time and thus of zero use medically. Still, perhaps a fine bib to catch errant pieces of dinner for later snacking. I trust it was a killer hotdog.