The president of Belarus reportedly played ice hockey in Minsk this weekend in front of a packed stadium even as much of the world has taken drastic measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
CNN reported Monday that Alexander Lukashenko was asked whether the virus would prevent him from playing, to which he responded: “To stop me? But why? It is possible, but why? I don’t understand. There are no viruses here. Did you see any of them flying around? I don’t see them too.”
“This is a fridge. It is the best for health,” he added. “This is better than sport and this fridge is the real anti-viral cure!”
There is no scientific evidence that the coronavirus can be killed in refrigeration.
Lukashenko, along with his many fans, were ignoring World Health Organization recommendations for social distancing to counter the spread of the highly contagious virus.
The Belarusian president told state-owned TV station All-National TV that “it’s better to die standing than to live on your knees.”
Belarus has not issued any restrictions on mass gatherings, and its soccer league gathering more than 1,700 fans at two clubs Saturday. Lukashenko has repeatedly minimized the pandemic, calling fears over the virus a “psychosis,” The Washington Post reported on Friday.
The Russian government, meanwhile, temporarily closed its borders Monday and implemented checkpoints on the border with Belarus.
Belarus, which has 9.5 million people, has documented 152 cases of the coronavirus and zero deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.