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Trump and first lady in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus

Trump had said he and his wife were going into quarantine after one of his closest advisors tested positive.
Trump had said he and his wife were going into quarantine after one of his closest advisors tested positive. © Andrew Caballero-Reynolds, AFP
7 min

US President Donald Trump says he and first lady Melania Trump are beginning a “quarantine process” after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.

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Trump tweeted early Friday: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for Covid-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”

The president's physician said Trump was "well" and would continue to perform his duties "without disruption" while quarantining along with the first lady.

They "are both well at this time and they plan to remain home at the White House during their convalesence," doctor Sean Conley said in a statement.

"I expect the president to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering," Conley added.

Trump is 74 years old, putting him at higher risk of serious complications from the virus.

More than 200,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States alone, with the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions especially hard hit.

The president rarely wears a mask and has ridiculed others, including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, for doing so regularly. 

Trump, who is tested regularly for the coronavirus, has held rallies with thousands of people in recent weeks in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election, despite warnings from public health professionals against having events with large crowds.

On Thursday night the president predicted that the end of the pandemic was in sight.

Shortly thereafter, news broke that Hope Hicks, a top adviser and trusted aide, had tested positive for the virus. Hicks traveled with the president on Air Force One on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The development alters the presidential race dramatically.

The White House issued a new schedule for Trump's activities on Friday that did not include a planned trip to Florida. Biden is scheduled to campaign in Michigan on Friday. Both states are swing states that could decide the US election.

'I felt no vulnerability whatsoever'

The positive tests are yet another reminder that the coronavirus continues to spread, even as Trump has tried desperately to suggest it no longer poses a danger.

Since it emerged earlier this year, Trump, the White House and his campaign have played down the threat and refused to abide by basic public health guidelines — including those issued by his own administration — such as wearing masks in public and practicing social distancing.

Trump, who has questioned the efficacy of wearing a face covering, produced a mask from his pocket in the first presidential debate on Tuesday and said, "I wear masks when needed. When needed, I wear masks."

He then ridiculed Biden for wearing them regularly: "I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."

Trump then travelled to New Jersey on Thursday for a fundraiser despite concerns about Hicks' health.

Multiple White House staffers have tested positive for the virus, including Katie Miller, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, national security adviser Robert O'Brien, and one of the president's personal valets.

Still, Trump has consistently played down concerns about being personally vulnerable to contracting Covid-19. “I felt no vulnerability whatsoever,” he told reporters back in May.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson kept working in isolation for a little over a week after testing positive in late March, but then fell gravely ill and was rushed into intensive care. He spent several weeks recovering before returning to work.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into quarantine in March after his wife was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro called it a "little flu" after being infected in July.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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