BOGOTA (AFP) – Colombian Defence Minister Carlos Holmes Trujillo died on Tuesday (Jan 26) of coronavirus complications, the country’s president announced.

He was 69.

Mr Trujillo is one of about a dozen sitting cabinet ministers worldwide to have succumbed to the virus that has killed at least 2.1 million people since the outbreak began in China in December 2019.

He was hospitalised in Bogota on January 11 and admitted to intensive care four days later after suffering “acute lung function deterioration,” according to the defence ministry.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said on Twitter that Mr Trujillo had died at dawn from complications due to Covid-19.

“Thank you, friend; thank you, partner; thank you, minister, thank you @CarlosHolmesTru. Your life was the purest reflection of vocation and public service,” Mr Duque wrote.

Several top politicians around the world have survived coronavirus infection, including former US president Donald Trump, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, Emmanuel Macron of France and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In December, Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini of Eswatini – formerly Swaziland – became the first sitting leader to die, joining ex-leaders such as former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Swiss ex-president Flavio Cotti and Burundi’s former head of state Pierre Buyoya.

Born in Cali in Colombia’s southwest, Mr Trujillo has served in government under six presidents since 1990 – as interior and education minister, and several times as an ambassador.

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