Donald Trump will be able to return to public events from Saturday, his doctor announced late on Thursday, saying the United States president’s condition after being diagnosed with COVID-19 had improved.
In a statement from the White House, Dr Sean Conley said Trump had “responded extremely well to treatment” and that “since returning home, his physical exam has remained stable and devoid of any indications to suggest progression of illness”.
Conley said that Saturday marks 10 days since Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 on October 1, and he “fully anticipate[s] the president’s safe return to public engagements at that time”.
Guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a person who tests positive for COVID-19 can be around others again 10 days after his or her symptoms first appeared.
That is provided the infected person’s symptoms have improved and they have gone 24 hours “with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medications”, according to its website.
Trump’s COVID-19 forced him to cancel several events ahead of the US presidential election on November 3, and he has been confined to the White House with a disease he has sought to play down since his return on Monday.
In a phone interview with Fox News, Trump said he was feeling “so good” and that he was keen to get back to campaigning.
“I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night, if we have enough time to put it together, but we want to do a rally… probably in Florida on Saturday night, might come back and do one in Pennsylvania in the following night,” he said.
He also said he would probably get a COVID-19 test on Friday.
Observers have questioned whether the president could still be contagious, and raised concerns about his proximity to staff and others. More than two dozen of Trump’s close aides, political allies and White House staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in the outbreak.
“At this point, there’s no diagnostic test that tells you whether a person that’s infected remains infectious,” Dr Benjamin Pinsky, who leads Stanford University’s virology labs, told The Associated Press news agency. “There is absolutely a chain of unknowns.”
Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said two negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) lab tests 24 hours apart are a key factor in determining whether someone is still contagious.
“So, if the president goes 10 days without symptoms, and they do the tests that we were talking about, then you could make the assumption, based on good science, that he is not infected,” Fauci said on MSNBC on Thursday.
Trump was admitted to hospital last Friday after he announced he had contracted the coronavirus, in a diagnosis that has drawn attention to his administration’s handling of the pandemic. He is trailing Democratic candidate Joe Biden in national polls.