By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, Mar 14 (efe-epa).- US President Donald Trump tested negative for the coronavirus after being exposed to several infected people while meeting with a Brazilian government delegation, the White House said Saturday.
“Last night after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding COVID-19 testing, he elected to proceed,” Sean Conley, the physician to the president, wrote in a memo released by the White House. “This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative.”
“One week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation in Mar-a-Lago, the President remains symptom-free,” Conley wrote.
The notification was issued hours after Trump revealed that he had been tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has claimed 51 lives in the United States.
“I also took the test last night,” the president said during a briefing at the White House on the government’s response to the virus. “And I decided I should, based on the press conference yesterday. People were asking, ‘Did I take the test?'”
Reporters posed that question to Trump on Friday after he declared a national emergency to deal with COVID-19.
Trump’s apparent reluctance to submit to the test caused controversy after an aide who accompanied President Jair Bolsonaro on a trip to Florida that included a stop at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort was diagnosed with the virus.
Fabio Wajngarten, a Brazilian presidential spokesman, appears in a group photo with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and another person who had contact with Bolsonaro’s delegation, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, disclosed Friday that he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Trump’s decision to be tested represents something of an about-face for the White House, which spent days downplaying the importance of the president’s contact with the infected Brazilians.
Reporters arriving for Saturday’s news conference had their temperatures taken and one was refused entry for having a slightly elevated temperature.
“Out of an abundance of caution, temperature checks are now being performed on any individuals who are in close contact with the president and vice president,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said.
The press conference began about 12 hours after the ban Trump ordered on entry of foreign nationals arriving on flights from continental Europe took.
While the original order made an exception for travelers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, when asked Saturday about the possibility of extending the ban to those two countries, the president said: “Actually we already have looked at it and that is going to be announced.”
Pence, who was at the briefing along with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Housing Secretary Ben Carson and senior health officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, said minutes later that the prohibition on travel from the UK and Ireland would take effect at midnight Monday.
“Again, Americans in the UK or Ireland can come home. Legal residents can come home,” the vice president said.
The UK has reported 1,440 cases of Covid-19 and 21 deaths, while the Irish government says it has confirmed the presence of the virus in 90 people.
Washington has now imposed restrictions on travel from 28 countries and Trump reiterated Saturday that he is mulling the possibility of limiting movement of people in and out of “hot spots” in the US.
With the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US topping 2,100, Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that “we have not reached our peak.”
People should prepare to see an increase in both infections and deaths, especially among older people with underlying health problems, he said.