US President Donald Trump has tested negative for the novel coronavirus, the White House physician said, hours after his administration declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency on Friday.
Trump, 73, had taken the coronavirus test on Friday night. The results came out in less than 24 hours.
“Last night, after an in-depth discussion with the President regarding the COVID-19 test, he elected to proceed. This evening, I received confirmation that the test is negative,” Dr. Sean Conley, the presidential physician, said in a memorandum to White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Saturday.
“One week after having dinner with the Brazilian delegation in Mar-a-Lago, the President remains symptom-free,” he said.
“I have been in the daily contact with the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and the White House Task Force, and we are encouraging the implementation of all their best practices for exposure reduction and transmission mitigation,” Conley added.
Trump had resisted being tested for the virus that has killed at least 51 Americans and infected over 2,500 others.
The deadly novel coronavirus has claimed over 5,300 lives and infected more than 142,000 people across 135 countries and territories, with the World Health Organisation describing the outbreak of a pandemic on Wednesday.
As part of the precautionary measure to stop the deadly disease from spreading, doctors are advising people to avoid shaking hands.
Trump considered to be a germophobic and not a good supporter of shaking hands over the past few days has been seen shaking hands with people.
“Why are you shaking hands, sir?” a reporter asked Trump during a White House news conference Saturday afternoon.
President Trump defended his habit of shaking hands, saying this is a cultural habit that is tough to be done away with.
“Because it almost becomes a habit, and you get out of that habit. And, frankly, I was a non-hand-shaker, for the most part. I’ve never believed that shaking hands – once you become a politician. And I notice it too: Political people walk up to me, they want to shake my hand. I said, ‘Well, you know’,” he explained.
“People come up to me, they shake hands, they put their hand out. It’s sort of a natural reflex, and we’re all getting out of it. All of us have that problem. Somebody comes up to you, they put their hand out — you probably tend to just shake it. And we’re all getting out of that,” he said.
“Shaking hands is not a great thing to be doing right now, I agree. But people put their hand out. Sometimes I’ll put the handout. You don’t think about it. People are thinking about it more and more. We have to think about it; it’s important,” he said, referring to the age-old cultural practice which is tough to die down.
“Getting away from shaking hands is a good thing, and possibly that’s something that comes out of this. Maybe people shouldn’t be shaking hands for the long term because it does transmit flu and other things,” Trump said.
The World Health Organisation has advised people to stay at least three feet away from someone who is sick or potentially contagious. The US Centre for Disease Control or CDC recommends maintaining a six feet distance.
France is now discouraging cheek-kissing and shaking hands has been suspended in Germany.
Early this week, Trump used the traditional Indian greeting of namaste’ when he met the Ireland Prime Minister in the Oval Office of the White House.
Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra Jonas earlier this week on Instagram urged people to use ‘namaste’ to greet others in the current times.