An Australian official who met with Ivanka Trump last week confirmed on Friday that he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Australia’s home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, said in a statement that he had contracted COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus which first appeared in China in December and has since become a pandemic.
Dutton, 49, said he has been admitted to a hospital after the Queensland Department of Health informed him that the test results came back positive. “I feel fine and will provide an update in due course,” he said.
A White House spokesman said later Friday that Dutton “was asymptomatic” while interacting with Ivanka, who is a senior aide to her dad, President Donald Trump.
“Exposures from the case were assessed and the White House Medical Unit confirmed, in accordance with CDC guidance, that Ivanka is exhibiting no symptoms and does not need to self-quarantine,” the White House spokesman said. “She worked from home today [Friday] out of an abundance of caution until guidance was given.”
Dutton met with with Ivanka along with Attorney General Bill Barr, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan in the U.S. late last week.
Ivanka, 38, was with Dutton on March 5 and the two stood next to each other while posing for a group photo, posted by the Australian Embassy on social media the next day.
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This is not the Trump family’s first contact with a coronavirus patient: An aide to Brazil’s president met with President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence last weekend and then tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday.
Fabio Wajngarten, the communications director for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, posted a photo of himself standing next to Pence and President Trump at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida over the weekend.
President Trump told reporters Thursday morning that he “isn’t concerned” about having come in contact with Wajngarten.
“The White House is aware of public reports that a member of the Brazilian delegation’s visit to Mar-a-Lago last weekend tested positive for COVID-19; confirmatory testing is pending,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement Thursday.
Grisham also added that “both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.”
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Government officials have been among the tens of thousands of people infected with the coronavirus so far, including in Australia, Canada and Iran.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday that his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus after returning to Ottawa from a recent trip to Britain.
“Her symptoms remain mild and she is taking care of herself and following the advice of our doctor,” he said.
The majority of people who have contracted the coronavirus have recovered, but the risk is higher for older people and those with underlying health complications such as heart and respiratory problems.
More than 137,000 cases of the virus had been reported worldwide as of Friday afternoon, while about 5,000 deaths have been reported due to the virus – most of them in China.
In the U.S., there have been about 1,800 cases reported as of Friday afternoon and 41 deaths, a majority of those coming in the Washington state, which is an epicenter of the outbreak in America.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic, reflecting the speed and severity with which it has spread. Health and government officials have encouraged “social distancing” – including working from home and avoiding large gatherings – to slow new infections.
Grisham, the White House press secretary, said in her statement Thursday that both the White House Medical Unit and the Secret Service were “working closely with various agencies” to ensure protection for the first and second families, which includes Ivanka.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.