Belarus president who dismissed coronavirus as ‘psychosis’, says he was infected

President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, who termed COVID-19 as ‘psychosis’, said he contracted coronavirus but recovered without suffering any symptoms.

65-year-old Lukashenko resisted calls for strict lockdown measures to contain the pandemic, dismissing fear and suggested remedies such as drinking vodka, taking saunas and playing ice hockey.

Public frustration over his handling of the pandemic has fuelled the biggest protests in years against his rule ahead of a presidential election on August 9. He has jailed two of his main electoral rivals in a widening crackdown on dissent.

“I apologise for my voice, lately I have to talk a lot. But the most surprising thing is that today you are seeing a person who managed to power through coronavirus standing on his feet,” he said on Tuesday during a visit to a military base.

“Like I said, 97% of our people go through this illness without symptoms and thank God I’ve managed to get into this group of asymptomatic people,” added Lukashenko.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in fact estimates that about 40% of people infected with Covid-19 don’t experience any symptoms.

Lukashenko, who has ruled since 1994, has not limited his own public appearances during the pandemic and went ahead with an annual military parade in May.

Lukashenko did not say when or how he might have contracted the virus. He met Russian President Vladimir Putin at a military parade in Moscow last month.

Belarus, with a population of 9.5 million, has registered 67,366 coronavirus infections with 543 deaths.