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Brazil's Bolsonaro Has Been Hospital For Intestinal Issues After 10 Days Of Hiccups

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is still in the hospital after being airlifted to Sao Paulo earlier this week. He's being treated for a possible intestinal obstruction. This is the latest in a string of health scares for Bolsonaro since 2018, when he was stabbed while on the campaign trail. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, it comes amid a drop in his popularity and intense criticism for his handling of the pandemic.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Doctors of the Vila Nova Star Hospital in Sao Paulo say President Bolsonaro is, quote, "evolving in a satisfactory manner." But they didn't give a timeline for when he might leave the hospital. The president was flown to the facility from the capital Brasilia on Wednesday to possibly unblock an obstructed intestine.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EDUARDO BOLSONARO: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: Bolsonaro's son Eduardo, a legislator, posted a video to Telegram saying that nearly a liter of liquid had been removed from his father's stomach, alleviating much pain. Bolsonaro has undergone seven surgeries due to complications since being stabbed in the abdomen by a mentally ill assailant more than three years ago. For the past few weeks, Bolsonaro has looked ill, sounding unwell during several public events.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO: (Non-English language spoken).

KAHN: Last Friday, at the opening of a university fair in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, Bolsonaro can be seen visibly hiccupping. He later told a radio station he had the hiccups 24 hours a day, some reports said for up to 10 days. His hospitalization comes at a difficult time for him politically; his popularity is plummeting.

MAURICIO SANTORO: It is his worst political moment since the beginning of his administration.

KAHN: Mauricio Santoro is a political scientist at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.

SANTORO: People are so angry right now, and they want answers. They want vaccines.

KAHN: He says Bolsonaro is facing much criticism for his handling of the COVID pandemic. More than half-a-million Brazilians have died. Officials are looking into allegations that Bolsonaro's administration sought kickbacks when they purchased COVID-19 vaccines.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.