(Update 2: Adds details, changes headline, minor edits throughout)
Washington DC, Oct 2 (efe-epa).- United States president Donald Trump announced early Friday morning that he and First Lady Melania Trump have contracted COVID-19.
“Tonight, the first lady and I have tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. Together we will get through it!” Trump, 74, announced on Twitter.
In a subsequent statement, presidential physician Sean Conley said “the President and the First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence.”
He added that the White House medical team would maintain “a vigilant watch” and he expected Trump to continue carrying out his duties without disruption.
Melania, 50, also posted a message on her official Twitter account.
“As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19,” she wrote. “We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.”
The couple had been self-isolating and awaiting the test results after one of the leader’s closest advisers, Hope Hicks, was confirmed to have contracted the virus Thursday.
Hicks, 31, traveled with Trump on Tuesday to Cleveland for the presidential debate and on Wednesday on Air Force One to Minnesota, where the president had a campaign rally. They also traveled together to Pennsylvania for a rally on Saturday.
US media reported that she experienced symptoms of COVID-19 on the flight back to Washington from Minnesota.
Hicks was seen without a mask at various points during these trips, as was Trump, who does not wear one in public.
On Tuesday at the presidential debate, Trump mocked Democratic nominee Joe Biden, 77, for wearing a mask, saying: “I don’t wear a mask like him. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask.”
Trump’s diagnosis severely disrupts the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, which is just weeks away on Nov. 3.
His campaign had a rally planned in Sanford, Florida for Friday, which has reportedly now been canceled, and two rallies in Wisconsin on Saturday, with the next presidential debate with Biden scheduled for Oct. 15. All fall within the 14-day quarantine period, unless Trump tests negative before then.
Until Trump’s announcement, Hicks was the closest person to the US president and highest White House official to test positive for the novel coronavirus , although other officials in the White House have been infected before, including Katie Miller, the spokesperson for Vice-President Mike Pence.
If the president becomes too ill to lead the country, Pence would be in charge, ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The vice-president took to Twitter Friday to send well-wishes to the Trumps.
“Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania,” Pence wrote.
It is currently unknown whether anyone else, or who else – including Pence or Biden and his team – have been infected, nor how long the Trumps or Hicks have had the virus for, or what will happen with the election campaign.
The United States is the country hardest hit by the pandemic in the world with 7,276,938 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 207,771 deaths, according to the most recent data from Johns Hopkins University. EFE-EPA