Honduras president hospitalized with pneumonia, COVID-19

International
Juan Orlando Hernandez, Ana Garcia, Mauricio Oliva

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2018 file photo, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, left, stands with his wife Ana Garcia, during the presidential inauguration ceremony for his second term at the National Stadium in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Hernández and his wife have tested positive for COVID-19, the Central American leader said late Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in a television message. (AP Photo/Fernando Antonio, File)

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández was hospitalized Wednesday with pneumonia, hours after announcing that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19.

Francis Contreras, spokesman for the National System of Risk Management, said in a news conference that after reviewing Hernández’s lab work and x-rays, doctors determined the president had pneumonia and recommended he be hospitalized. He said Hernández was in good condition, but he was receiving medicine intraveneously that had to be administered in the Military Hospital.

Hernández had announced late Tuesday night in a televized message that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19.

Hernández said that over the weekend he began feeling some discomfort and on Tuesday received the test results.

He said it was part of the risk that comes with the job. With his responsibilities, he said, he could not stay at home constantly.

Hernández said his symptoms are light and that he’s already starting to feel better. He said he had started what he called the “MAIZ treatment,” an experimental combination of microdacyn, azithromycin, ivermectin and zinc.

He said his wife is asymptomatic and two other people who work with them are also infected.

Honduras has nearly 10,000 confirmed cases of the disease and 330 deaths. But testing is limited and the public health system operating under great strain.

The center of Honduras’ epidemic has been in Cortes, the state surrounding San Pedro Sula in the north, but in recent weeks cases have surged around the capital of Tegucigalpa.

Hernández is a close ally of the Trump administration, primarily in efforts to slow illegal immigration. However, U.S. federal prosecutors in New York have prosecuted the president’s brother and made it increasingly clear that a case is building against Hernández himself.

No charges have been filed against the president, but U.S. prosecutors have alleged that he accepted money from drug traffickers to advance his political career in exchange for letting them move drugs through the country.

Hernández has denied those allegations.

He was reelected in a disputed November 2017 election, despite the country’s constitutional ban on reelection.

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AP writer Christopher Sherman in Mexico City contributed to this report.

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