Five things you need to know about Trump’s COVID-19 infection

The US president’s diagnosis has thrown the US election into chaos as campaigning is halted amid fears of more infections.

US President Donald Trump wearing face mask
Trump will spend the coming days in a military hospital to undergo treatment for the coronavirus, the White House said [File: Joshua Roberts/Reuters]

US President Donald Trump’s diagnosis as COVID-19 positive adds extraordinary drama to an already fast-moving and tumultuous election campaign.

A lack of clear information about Trump’s diagnosis, symptoms and current health condition, despite assurances from White House officials and physicians that he is doing well, has also fuelled a sense of uncertainty for many in the United States.

Here are five facts about the US president’s infection:

Where is Trump now?

Trump will spend the coming days in a military hospital just outside Washington, DC, to undergo treatment for the coronavirus, but will continue to work, the White House said on Friday.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Trump “will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days”.

The president’s campaign manager Bill Stepien said earlier in the day that all previously announced campaign events ahead of the November 3 election would be held virtually or postponed.

The positive COVID-19 test also raises questions about whether two debates with Democrat Joe Biden later this month will go ahead as planned.

What treatment is he receiving?

White House doctor Sean Conley said on Friday that the president was “fatigued but in good spirits” and was taking an experimental COVID-19 treatment.

Trump received a single dose of Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, Conley said in a letter.

The treatment is undergoing clinical trials but has not yet been approved by regulators.

As a 74-year-old man, Trump is “at higher risk for severe illness” from the virus, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health agency.

Trump will be monitored closely for the wide range of common symptoms which include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle ache and headache.

Conley told reporters Saturday that Trump received the first dose of a five-day course of remdesivir, a drug known to help patients recover from the virus.

What are his symptoms?

On Thursday, Trump did not immediately isolate after his close aide Hope Hicks tested positive.

Instead, he boarded a plane to New Jersey, where he attended a fundraiser at his golf club and delivered a speech surrounded by dozens of people before returning to the White House.

The New York Times quoted unnamed sources saying Trump showed mild symptoms at the Thursday night event, seeming lethargic. One source told the paper he had displayed cold-like symptoms.

On Friday, Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows said that the president had “mild symptoms”.

Conley said Saturday morning that Trump had been “fever-free for 24 hours” after he had a mild cough, nasal congestion and fatigue on Thursday.

The president tweeted Saturday that he was “feeling well”.


How did he get it?

It is unknown how Trump contracted the coronavirus, but he has defied medical advice by seldom wearing a mask and often meeting with large groups of people.

White House alarm bells started to ring when Hicks tested positive. She is a central figure in Trump’s inner circle and travelled with him several times during the past week.

She was also closely involved in his preparations for Tuesday’s debate against Joe Biden. At the televised event, many of Trump’s guests did not wear masks.

Who else in the White House has it?

Trump announced that his wife, Melania, also tested positive for the virus in his tweet announcing their diagnoses on Friday morning.

Vice President Mike Pence, who would step in if Trump falls seriously ill, tested negative later on Friday, as did Trump’s teenage son Barron.

Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law who are top White House advisers, and Donald Trump Jr, the president’s son, also tested negative, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, tested positive several days ago, it was announced on Friday.

At least three Republican senators tested positive on Friday and Saturday, as did former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Many other senior politicians, officials and military officers who work or visit the White House were being tested on Friday.

Source: AFP