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US President Donald Trump has tested negative for Covid-19

Trump agreed to be tested after coming into contact with a delegation who had tested positive for the virus.

Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus press briefing yesterday
Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus press briefing yesterday
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has tested negative for Covid-19, his physician has announced, following concerns over his exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Trump agreed to the test after coming into contact with several members of a Brazilian presidential delegation who visited his resort in Florida, who have since tested positive for the virus.

“This evening I received confirmation that the test is negative,” the president’s physician Sean Conley said in a memo last night.

Trump had dismissed concerns over his exposure to the disease which has killed at least 51 people in the US and led to millions working from home and the closure of schools.

His virus test came after contact with the Brazilian delegation as well as US politicians and political leaders who have gone into self-quarantine over potential infection.

Trump had declared a national emergency on Friday, freeing up some $40 billion in disaster relief funds.

The US House of Representatives also passed a bill – crafted by Democrats in consultation with the Trump administration – to provide billions of dollars for free virus testing, emergency paid sick leave and family leave.

It is expected to pass the Republican-majority Senate.

Repeatedly attacked for sending out mixed signals on the health crisis, Trump raised eyebrows on Friday when, contrary to medical advice, he was seen shaking hands as he gathered his coronavirus response team at the White House.

On Saturday, he blamed habit – “people put their hand out… you don’t think about it” — but said it would have to change.

“Maybe people shouldn’t be shaking hands for the long-term,” said Trump, a self-declared germophobe.

On Saturday a 30-day US ban took effect on all travel from the EU’s Schengen border-free zone, part of a global clampdown on travel to curtail the virus.

US Vice President Mike Pence also announced further curbs on travel to the United States last night, saying a ban that was imposed on European countries over the pandemic would be extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland from Tuesday.

The restrictions threw airports across the country into disarray, with incoming travellers forced to wait hours for medical screenings before passing through customs.

Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said his office was working with airlines to improve screening times.

Trump advised against non-essential travel and said officials were also considering imposing domestic restrictions.

“If you don’t have to travel, I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said at a White House news conference. “We want this thing to end.”

In an official proclamation, he also named Sunday a national day of prayer “for all people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic”.

- © AFP 2020

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