RIO DE JANEIRO — After questioning the seriousness of COVID-19, defying his own health ministry’s recommendations and denouncing a “certain hysteria,” Brazil’s president is now projecting himself as leading the nation’s response to the coronavirus crisis in what has become one of the biggest challenges to his presidency. President Jair Bolsonaro provoked the ire of many Brazilians and even former political allies with his blasé attitude to the global pandemic and insistence on shaking supporters’ hands at a protest. One of Brazil’s most popular news sites, UOL, reported Bolsonaro had suggested the Chinese government caused the coronavirus outbreak — a claim later voiced publicly by his son, a lawmaker. China’s embassy rebuffed the allegations, saying on Twitter they were “extremely irresponsible.” While many countries around Latin America and the world have quarantined millions, canceled international flights and shut down schools, Brazil has done none of these things. Only on Thursday did Bolsonaro order the closing of the country’s borders with its neighbors, except for Uruguay, when almost all South American countries had already taken that measure. No lockdowns have been ordered and state governments and municipalities have taken the lead in telling people to stay home. Late Thursday, Brazil announced


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