Biden tests positive for Covid, symptoms 'very mild'

Biden tests positive for Covid, symptoms 'very mild'
US President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, and said in a tweet that he was "doing great".
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The White House said Biden's symptoms were very mind [Getty]

US President Joe Biden tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, with his doctors saying the 79-year-old leader was experiencing only mild fatigue and would isolate at the White House while carrying out his duties.

Biden, who posted a picture of himself working at his desk, tweeted that he was "doing great" - and apologized for missing a scheduled event in Pennsylvania.

"Keeping busy!" added the US leader, in a post carefully curated to show he remains at the country's helm - smiling in a suit, with smartphones and documents laid out in front of him.

In announcing Biden's diagnosis, the White House stressed that the president was fully vaccinated and twice boosted, and said he was "experiencing very mild symptoms."

It said Biden was taking Pfizer's Paxlovid pill, an antiviral used to minimize the severity of Covid-19.

"Consistent with CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines, he will isolate at the White House and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time," it added in a statement.

Biden's doctor Kevin O'Connor wrote in an official note that the president was suffering from fatigue, runny nose and a dry cough, starting on Wednesday evening.

O'Connor added that the president had tested positive in a rapid antigen test on Thursday morning before the result was confirmed by a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.

"I talked to him just a few minutes ago. He's doing fine, he's feeling good," First Lady Jill Biden, who tested negative, told reporters on a visit to a school in Michigan.

Joe Biden is reported to be in good general health, but his advanced age will heighten concern over the impact of Covid.

Politically he is in a tough phase of his presidency, facing November midterm elections that are forecast to be painful for his Democratic Party, as well as declining personal approval ratings.

His ratings have hit a new low, with only 31 percent of Americans satisfied with the way he is running the country, according to the latest polls.

Biden had planned to spend more time on the ground in the United States in the coming weeks after a period of intense overseas travel, including a NATO summit in Spain and a controversial trip to Saudi Arabia.

He is now expected to stay at the White House for several days.

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The CDC, the leading US government health agency, says that older adults are more likely to get severely sick from Covid-19, with risk increasing with age.

The highly-transmissible Omicron BA.5 subvariant is currently fueling a new wave of Covid cases in the United States -- where hospitalizations have doubled in recent months.

The country is seeing some 130,000 new reported cases daily, but the figure is thought to be substantially underestimated due to the expanded use of home tests, whose results are not typically reported to authorities.

On assuming office, Biden made a point of abiding by strict Covid protocols, holding socially distanced meetings or Zoom gatherings, and wearing a mask to public events -- in sharp contrast to his predecessor Donald Trump.

While other members of Biden's family and many of his close advisors contracted the virus, the president had remained Covid-free until Thursday.

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Trump tested positive for coronavirus in October 2020 - in the middle of the bitterly fought election race he eventually lost to Biden.

The news that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had both contracted Covid was a shocking development at a time when the pandemic was still unfolding across the globe.

Trump, who was 74 at the time, was transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he spent the weekend and received various treatments. He returned to the White House three days later.

Biden last tested negative on Tuesday, and his officials pledged to provide a daily update on his health "out of an abundance of transparency."

After Biden's positive result, the White House said that Vice President Kamala Harris, who caught Covid back in April, had tested negative.

Good wishes poured in from US politicians across the country's sharp divide as well as from abroad.

"Wishing you... a swift recovery from #COVID19. Stay strong!" tweeted World Health Organization chief Tedros Ghebreyesus.

"Wishing President Biden a speedy recovery from COVID," said leading US Republican Lindsey Graham.