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Trump dinner companion tested positive for coronavirus, White House physician says

President Donald Trump dined with a person who has since tested positive for coronavirus, according to the White House physician.

The president came in contact with the person while hosting a Brazilian delegation at Mar-a-Lago, Navy Cdr. Sean Conley wrote in a White House memo released late Friday night. The person was seated at Trump’s table with the White House delegation.

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Conley’s memo said the president’s interaction with the person was longer than his brief interaction with another individual who was also at the dinner and shook Trump’s hand, and later tested positive for the virus.

Trump has continued shaking hands through the coronavirus outbreak, despite warnings against doing so from health professionals.

Earlier Friday night, the Brazilian embassy in the U.S. revealed that the country’s chargé d’affairs Ambassador Nestor Forster tested positive for coronavirus Friday and that he would be extending a self quarantine for a further two weeks.

Conley’s memo also stated that neither Trump nor the people who have since tested positive revealed any symptoms during their interactions and that the chance of Trump being infected remained low. Conley did not recommend testing the president as a necessity.

Trump said earlier on Friday that he will “most likely” get tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus, responding to questions from reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House.

Trump said he had not experienced any symptoms of the disease, but was consulting with his doctors on whether, and when, to do so.

“I think I will do it anyway,” the president had said earlier of a possible test. “We are working out a schedule.”

The president did not commit to sharing any results.

Trump’s remarks, delivered during a news conference announcing he was invoking emergency powers to combat the outbreak, came after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said he had tested negative for the virus.

Bolsonaro disputed a media report that he initially tested positive for the virus less than a week after meeting with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Rio de Janeiro-based newspaper Jornal O Dia reported that Bolsonaro’s initial test for the virus has come back positive, but authorities are awaiting the results of a second test Friday to confirm the diagnosis. The Brazilian president took to social media to forcefully push back on the report.

Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo quickly denied the diagnosis on social media and then in an interview on Fox News, but late Friday morning the Brazilian president himself posted on his social media accounts that he had tested negative for the disease.

“DON’T BELIEVE IN THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA!” he wrote in Portuguese. “THEY’RE THE ONES THAT NEED YOU!”

Trump confirmed in his Rose Garden briefing that Bolsonaro tested negative for coronavirus and added that members of his delegation at the Mar-a-Lago meeting had “no symptoms whatsoever.”

“We had a great meeting with the president of Brazil, Bolsonaro, great guy. Very tremendous. He’s doing a fantastic job for Brazil,” Trump said. “And, as you know, he tested negative, meaning nothing wrong this morning and we got that word, too. Because we did have dinner with him. We were sitting next to each other for a long period of time.”

Brazilian media outlets reported that Jair Bolsonaro underwent testing for the fast-spreading virus after his press secretary, who also met and dined with Trump at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, tested positive for the disease.

Also on Friday, The Miami Herald reported that Miami Mayor Francis Suarez had tested positive for the disease after meeting with the Brazilian delegation including Bolsonaro and Wajngarten.

And the Trump Victory, the campaign fundraising operation, sent an email to some attendees of a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago notifying them that an individual who attended the March 8 event had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. An RNC official confirmed the email, which was first reported by Maggie Haberman of the New York Times, but said that the unnamed person had no interaction with the president.

Despite his close contact with individuals who have tested positive, Trump insisted just a day earlier that he was “not concerned” about coming into contact with Wajngarten. The White House has not confirmed whether Trump has been tested for the coronavirus, although Trump said Tuesday he was open to being tested.

Earlier Friday, an Australian government minister who last week interacted with Attorney General William Barr, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and White House adviser Ivanka Trump announced Friday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat. I immediately contacted the Queensland Department of Health and was subsequently tested for COVID-19. I was advised by Queensland Health this afternoon that the test had returned positive,” Peter Dutton, Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs, said in a statement.

“It is the policy of Queensland Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice. I feel fine and will provide an update in due course,” Dutton said.

Dutton’s statement comes after he traveled to Washington and met last Thursday with Barr, Conway and Ivanka Trump — as well as representatives of the “Five Eyes” international intelligence alliance — to discuss efforts to combat online child exploitation.

Ivanka Trump stayed home from work at the White House on Friday as a precaution after learning of Dutton’s illness, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

“The White House is aware that [Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton] tested positive for COVID-19. He was asymptomatic during the interaction,” Deere said. “Exposures from the case were assessed and the White House Medical Unit confirmed, in accordance with CDC guidance, that Ivanka is exhibiting no symptoms and does not need to self-quarantine. She worked from home today out of an abundance of caution until guidance was given.”

In a statement Friday, DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said that Barr “is feeling great and not showing any symptoms. He is staying home today and has consulted with CDC. CDC is not recommending he be tested at this point.”

Still, Friday’s revelation from the high-ranking foreign official represents the latest example of the coronavirus infecting the upper echelons of governments around the world, and opens up Trump to another avenue of potential exposure to the fast-spreading disease.

Asked Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” whether someone who had stood next to an individual who tested positive should self-quarantine and get tested themselves, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said yes. But he declined to specifically say whether the president should be tested.

“I’m going to leave it to his physician, who is a very good physician,” Fauci said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is self-quarantining for 14 days after announcing Thursday that his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus. Trudeau “is in good health with no symptoms,” his office said in a statement, and therefore “will not be tested at this stage.”

Cristiano Lima contributed to this report.


Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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