6 Oct 2020

US President Donald Trump leaves hospital for White House

12:47 pm on 6 October 2020

US President Donald Trump has left hospital to continue treatment for Covid-19 at the White House.

US President Donald Trump walks out of Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to return to the White House.

US president Donald Trump leaving Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland. Photo: AFP

Wearing a face mask, he walked from the hospital to a motorcade which took him to Marine One. After the short flight to the White House, he removed his mask and posed for photos, saluting and giving a thumbs up.

Trump was admitted to the Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland on Friday after testing positive for the coronavirus.

In a tweet some hours before his departure he said he was feeling "really good" and he urged people not to be afraid of the virus, nor to let it dominate their lives.

His announcement came just before a briefing from his doctors, in which White House physician Dr. Sean P. Conley said the president had continued to improve, and had met or exceeded standard discharge criteria.

"Though he may not entirely be out of the woods yet, the team and I agree that all our evaluations and most importantly his clinical status support the president's safe return home, where he'll be surrounded by world class medical care 24/7."

US President Donald Trump takes off his facemask as he arrives at the White House on 5 October, on his return from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19.

On arrival from hospital Trump walked up the staircase of the White House South Portico, removed his mask and posed for pictures, at times giving a thumbs-up and others a salute. Photo: AFP

He would have a fourth dose of the intravenous antiviral drug, remdesivir, at the hospital and the final dose at the White House, the doctors said.

Conley would not say when Trump received his last negative virus test.

The normal quarantine period for anyone testing positive for the novel coronavirus is 14 days.

Trump frequently downplayed the threat of the pandemic which has now infected 7.4 million Americans and killed more than 209,000. In recent days, he released a series of videos to reassure the public he is recovering from the disease caused by the virus.

The coronavirus outbreak around Trump has widened with White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany saying she had tested positive for the virus.

In a statement posted on Twitter, McEnany said she was not experiencing any symptoms and would begin quarantining.

"Moreover, I definitively had no knowledge of Hope Hicks' diagnosis prior to holding a White House press briefing on Thursday," McEnany said referring to President Donald Trump's adviser whose positive test results were revealed last Thursday, hours before Trump announced he and his wife also had contracted the coronavirus.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks with members of the media at the White House in Washington, DC, 2 October 2020.

Kayleigh McEnany says she will begin quarantining after testing positive for Covid-19. Photo: AFP

McEnany, a well-known figure at the forefront of the White House's often combative dealings with the media, held a briefing for reporters on Thursday in which she did not wear a face mask.

Two others in the White House press office have also tested positive, a source confirmed to Reuters. McEnany said the White House medical unit does not list any members of the press as close contacts.

Doctors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, have been treating Trump, 74, with a steroid, dexmethasone, that is normally used only in the most severe cases.

Trump was running a high fever on Friday and had been given supplemental oxygen after his blood oxygen levels dropped, Dr Conley said on Sunday. In the latest briefing he said oxygen levels were normal and it had been 72 hours since the president's last fever.

White House physician Sean Conley, centre, arrives to answer questions surrounded by other doctors, during an update on the condition of US President Donald Trump, on 5 October 2020, at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

White House physician Dr Sean Conley, centre, arrives for the media briefing before Donald Trump leaves hospital. Photo: AFP

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has defended the decision to allow Trump to leave his suite briefly on Sunday to take part in a drive by to greet supporters outside the hospital. Critics said the action put Trump's security officers at risk.

Biden says he will debate Trump if experts say it is safe

The Trump campaign said the president intends to participate in the next presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, scheduled for 15 October in Miami.

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden says he is willing to participate in the scheduled debate as long as health experts say it would be safe.

Trump's illness has raised questions about the safety of holding the debates ahead of the 3 November election.

"If the scientists say that it's safe and the distances are safe, then I think that's fine. I'll do whatever the experts say is the appropriate thing to do," Biden, who tested negative for Covid-19 over the weekend, told reporters in Delaware before heading to Florida on a campaign trip.

A debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Biden's running mate, US Senator Kamala Harris, is still scheduled on Wednesday. They have both tested negative for Covid-19.

- Reuters / RNZ

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