US President Donald Trump has said he and First Lady Melania Trump have tested positive for coronavirus and are now in quarantine.
The president, aged 74 and therefore in a high-risk group, announced the news in a tweet. “We will get through this together,” he wrote.
It comes after one of his closest aides tested positive for coronavirus.
Hope Hicks, the 31-year-old adviser to the president, was the closest aide to Mr Trump to test positive so far.
She travelled with him on Air Force One to the first presidential TV debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden in Ohio on Tuesday.
Mr Trump has mostly spurned mask-wearing and has often been pictured not socially distanced with aides or others during official engagements.
Mr Trump’s physician, Sean Conley, released a statement, saying the president and the first lady were “both well at this time, and they 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, and I will keep you updated on any future developments,” the statement said.
Earlier on Thursday, Mr Trump said he and his wife, who is 50, were going into quarantine after Ms Hicks’s positive test.
He tweeted: “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!”
It is not clear how Mr Trump’s positive test will affect arrangements for the second presidential debate, which is scheduled for 15 October in Miami, Florida.
Mr Trump is not the first world leader to have tested positive. Earlier this year, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro were infected. They both have since recovered, although Mr Johnson had to receive regular oxygen treatment to help his breathing during hospitalisation.
‘An earth-shaking development’
A week after Donald Trump told Americans not to worry about Covid-19 because “it affects virtually nobody” except the elderly and those with heart conditions, the president himself has tested positive for the virus.
It is difficult to overstate exactly how earth-shaking a development this is, just 32 days before the US elections.
The president will have to quarantine for treatment. Campaign rallies are off. The next presidential debate, in two weeks, is in question.
The recurring message from the president, that the nation is “rounding the turn” in its handling of the virus, has been undermined by his own illness.
Just two days ago, during the first debate, Trump belittled Democratic opponent Joe Biden for frequently wearing masks and not having campaign rallies that matched his own in size.
Now, the White House and the campaign will have to answer why the president took such a seemingly cavalier attitude toward protecting himself – and how many others in the White House and the higher echelons of the US government may have been exposed.
During times of national turmoil, the American public tends to rally in support of the president. It may not be enough to insulate him from the questions that follow, however.
What about Hope Hicks?
According to Bloomberg News, Ms Hicks is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, and was quarantined on Air Force One on the trip back from a Minnesota rally.
A White House official quoted by The Hill political news outlet said that contact tracing had been carried out “and the appropriate notifications and recommendations have been made”.
During a phone call with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Mr Trump said he and Mrs Trump “spend a lot of time with Hope”.
Ms Hicks was a campaign spokeswoman during Mr Trump’s candidacy before becoming communications director in his White House.
She stepped down in March 2018 to become chief communications officer at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox, before returning to the White House in February.
Have there been other cases at the White House?
In May, Vice-President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller tested positive and later recovered.
That same month, a member of the US Navy who was serving as one of Mr Trump’s personal valets tested positive.
But the White House said at the time that neither the president nor vice-president were affected.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, a number of Secret Service agents, a Marine One pilot and a White House cafeteria worker have also tested positive.
The coronavirus has infected more than 7.2 million Americans, killing more than 200,000 of them.
The White House tests aides and anyone else who comes into contact with the president daily. BBC