The US President has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Donald Trump took to Twitter to reveal he and the First Lady Melania Trump have both tested positive for Covid-19.
He said that they have begun their “quarantine and recovery process immediately”.
“We will get through this TOGETHER!”
It comes as the president’s senior advisor Hope Hicks tested positive forcing the Trumps into a “quarantine process” on Thursday (local time).
Ms Hicks, one of the president’s most trusted and longest-serving confidantes, began feeling mild symptoms during the plane ride home from a rally in Minnesota Wednesday evening (local time), an anonymous administration official told AP.
She was isolated from other passengers aboard the plane and her diagnosis was confirmed the following day.
Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
Ms Hicks also accompanied the president and other senior aides to the first presidential debate in Cleveland this week.
Her diagnosis prompted calls this morning for the president to self-isolate which he initially brushed off saying “we’ll see what happens”. Just two hours before announcing the positive result, Mr Trump said he and his wife would “begin our quarantine process”.
US stock futures fell sharply when the news was announced this afternoon.
Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020
President will ‘continue carrying out duties’
In the lead up to the November 3 election, Mr Trump recommenced holding large rallies in recent weeks with no social distancing between members of the crowd.
With just over thirty days until the election, the diagnosis will no doubt hinder the president’s campaigning plans.
In a memorandum, Mr Trump’s physician said the president and first lady “are both well at this time” and “plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence”.
“Rest assured I expect the President to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering,” he added.
Mr Trump’s age puts him at higher risk of serious complications from a virus that has now killed more than 200,000 people in his country.
Donald Trump is 74 years old, while Melania Trump is 50 years old.
Some studies suggest COVID-19 patients who are obese may be at higher risk of being seriously sickened by the virus. In his 2019 physical, Mr Trump met the technical threshold for obesity.
Diagnosis is awkward timing for the president
The diagnosis marks a major blow for a president who has been trying desperately to convince the American public that the worst of the pandemic is behind them even as cases continue to rise, particularly in Republican states.
His looming fight will push the issue to the front of voters’ minds in the final weeks of the campaign as rival Joe Biden continues to attack the president for allowing the US to rack up the world’s worst coronavirus death toll.
The president had consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, even after White House staff and allies were exposed and sickened.
"I felt no vulnerability whatsoever," he said told reporters back in May.
Mr Trump, the vice president and other senior staff have been tested for COVID-19 daily since two people who work at the White House complex tested positive in early May. Everyone who comes into contact with the president also receives a quick-result test.
But Mr Trump continued to shake hands with visitors long after public health officials were warning against it and he initially resisted being tested.
He has been reluctant to practise his own administration's social distancing guidelines for fear of looking weak, including refusing under almost all circumstances to wear a mask in public.
He has instead encouraged governors to reopen their states and tried to focus the nation's attention on efforts to revive the economy - not a growing death toll - as he seeks another four-year term.
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