Vulnerable Donald Trump at ‘high risk’ from coronavirus
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The US leader’s bid for reelection has been thrown into turmoil while First Lady Melania has also tested positive.
Yesterday he and Melania were in isolation at the White House.
Doctors are concerned that although President Trump, 74, is currently showing mild symptoms, they could become more severe within the next two weeks given his age and weight. At 6ft 2in and 17st he is technically obese which could put him at high risk of a serious infection.
He is also under medication for heart and prostate conditions.
If the President becomes seriously ill, there are constitutional procedures that would allow Vice President Mike Pence to assume power temporarily, a month to the day before the November 3 election.
Insiders say that the President is “desperate” to be seen in public after his diagnosis and wants to portray an image of defiance given that he downplayed the effects of the virus earlier this year.
The pandemic has killed more than 208,000 Americans and infected 7.3 million others.
Yesterday he tweeted: “FLOTUS (First Lady) and I tested positive for Covid-19.
“We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this together.”
Melania yesterday added that both she and her husband were “feeling good”.
The President’s physician, Sean Conley, said the couple were “both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
The announcement marked an extraordinary twist in the campaign, coming just as Mr Trump was preparing to escalate his re-election bid.
Despite the threat of Covid, Mr Trump has refused to halt his rallies in which thousands of his supporters attend with many refusing to wear masks. He has described the virus as a “political hoax” and told the American public “it’s like a miracle, it will disappear”.
Questions were last night being asked how long he had carried the disease despite the White House describing him as the “most tested man in the world”.
His positive test came after adviser Hope Hicks was confirmed to have Covid on Thursday morning, hours after travelling with the President on Air Force One back from a rally in Minnesota.While on the flight he was said to have “been lethargic” before falling asleep.
On Thursday he travelled to and from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, to take part in two campaign events.
Mr Trump was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters, at a roundtable event. He did not wear a mask.
Ms Hicks is among Mr Trump’s closest aides and enters the Oval Office multiple times a day, meeting with White House and campaign aides.
She has been spotted on several occasions without a mask.
The diagnoses rocked the administration and sent shockwaves through the global markets which were already shaky given the pandemic and political uncertainty in the US ahead of the election.
Mr Trump’s presidential rival Joe Biden wished him and Melania a “swift recovery”.
Yesterday it was revealed by the Democratic campaign team that Mr Biden and his wife Jill have both tested negative for the virus. Mr Trump clashed repeatedly with Mr Biden during the first presidential debate this week.
There were also messages of sympathy from world leaders who have grappled with the crisis in their own countries.
Boris Johnson, who was treated in intensive care for Covid in March and is still recovering from the effects of the disease, tweeted: “My best wishes to President Trump and the First Lady. Hope they both have a speedy recovery from coronavirus.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram, saying: “I am certain that your inherent vitality, good spirits and optimism will help you cope with this dangerous virus.”
However, others pointed to Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic and attacked the advice and statements he has made since its outbreak.
Last month it emerged Bob Woodward, who uncovered the Watergate scandal and is one of America’s most respected journalists, interviewed Mr Trump 18 times from December to July.
Star Wars actor Mark Hamill, 69, said that the news might have benefits and help people to realise that the virus can infect even the most powerful man in the world.
He tweeted: “If anything positive can come him testing positive, it would be his followers re-evaluating their opinions.
“If they will now accept a lockdown, social distancing & mandatory mask-wearing, we could crush the virus like we should have from the start.”
Alan Sugar, Mr Trump’s British counterpart on The Apprentice TV show, said that the President might “finally wake up and realise this is a dangerous pandemic”.
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