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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been hospitalized several times due to complications from the stabbing in 2018, which perforated his intestine.Eraldo Peres/The Associated Press

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, hospitalized in São Paulo amid complications from a 2018 stabbing, is improving and will not need surgery if he continues to recover well, his son Flavio tweeted on Thursday.

The president flew from Brasilia to São Paulo on Wednesday to undergo tests, and possible emergency surgery, to unblock an obstructed intestine after days of hiccups. Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, has been hospitalized several times in the wake of the near-fatal campaign trail stabbing, which perforated his intestine. He also caught COVID-19 last year.

“President @jairbolsonaro evolved well, woke up in a good mood, and if this continues, he won’t need to undergo surgery!” Flavio Bolsonaro, a federal senator, wrote on Twitter.

Earlier on Thursday, in a social media video to his followers, another of Bolsonaro’s sons, lawmaker Eduardo, said doctors in São Paulo’s Vila Nova Star hospital were constantly evaluating whether his father would require surgery.

Local news outlet G1 reported Bolsonaro was scheduled to undergo further tests on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the president’s office had said Bolsonaro, 66, could require emergency surgery after he was transferred from a hospital in Brasilia.

But after he arrived in São Paulo on Wednesday night, doctors at the Vila Nova Star hospital said the president would initially remain “under conservative management.”

“I thank everyone for their support and prayers,” Bolsonaro said in a Facebook post on Wednesday shortly after the news of his transfer to São Paulo was announced.

Along with the message, he shared a photo of himself shirtless with his eyes closed and lying in a hospital bed covered in sensors and cables. Next to him, stood what appeared to be a priest with a crucifix.

POLITICAL GAIN

The photo, which was accompanied with a text railing against his leftist opponents, led some to allege that Bolsonaro might be leveraging his condition for political gain. Many in Brazil believe the 2018 knife attack, and the widespread sympathy it engendered, was a crucial factor behind his election win.

A piece in newspaper Folha de S.Paulo said Bolsonaro’s hospitalization had allowed him to resurrect one of his “favourite personas … that of the political martyr.” It noted “that Bolsonaro did not invent his health condition” but said his current plight has “immediate utility” as he is “in one of the most pressing moments of his term.”

Bolsonaro’s popularity has sagged due to his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while senators are probing a simmering corruption scandal over his government’s purchase of vaccines. With over 537,000 COVID-19 dead, Brazil has the world’s second highest death toll from the virus after the United States.

However, a poll published by Datafolha on Thursday showed for the first time a majority of Brazilians say they think the pandemic is either “totally under control” or “partly under control” in the country, a potential boost for Bolsonaro.

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