May 27, 2020 / 3:23 AM / a month ago

Salvadoran leader says he takes drug touted by Trump for coronavirus

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele speaks at a news conference during a nationwide quarantine as El Salvador's government undertakes steadily stricter measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in San Salvador, El Salvador May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele said on Tuesday he takes hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that U.S. President Donald Trump has promoted as a way to ward off the novel coronavirus, though experts have warned about its safety.

Bukele told reporters that El Salvador was not promoting it anymore as a treatment, following the recommendation of the World Health Organization, though patients would still be able to take it as a preventative measure if they wished.

“I use it as a prophylaxis, President Trump uses it as a prophylaxis, most of the world’s leaders use it as a prophylaxis,” Bukele said.

Bukele’s forceful response to the coronavirus, including moving to extend a national state of emergency without congressional approval, has prompted criticism that the 38-year-old has shown authoritarian tendencies and exceeded his powers.

Speaking at an event with Bukele, the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Ronald Johnson, suggested that he approved of the leader’s handling of the pandemic.

“I believe that in crisis situations, oftentimes people must give up a little bit of their freedoms in order to favor the rights and freedoms of the majority and of the whole,” he said.

“This is only a temporary moment.”

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; writing by Julia Love; Editing by Robert Birsel

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