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'Don't fear Covid,' Trump urges supporters as he returns to White House

US president leaves hospital amid confusion over state of his health

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Mr Trump, still infectious to others, removes his mask as he stands on the White House balcony. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Mr Trump, still infectious to others, removes his mask as he stands on the White House balcony. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Mr Trump, still infectious to others, removes his mask as he stands on the White House balcony. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Donald Trump last night walked out of the military hospital where he had received an unprecedented level of care for Covid-19 for three days, urging the nation should not be afraid of the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

Despite being still under treatment for his illness, a masked Mr Trump pumped his fist as he walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre.

The president, still potentially infectious to close contacts, walked to a waiting armoured vehicle that carried him to the Marine One helicopter for the short flight back to the White House.

He said "Thank you very much" to the assembled reporters but declined to answer questions about whether he considered himself to be a 'super-spreader' after at least 11 members of the White House staff had tested positive for the virus.

After he arrived back at the White House, he removed his mask to pose for photographs, prompting criticism from medical commentators who said he was endangering staff members seen with him inside the building.

He returned to a White House where staff have been hit by a wave of infections and a campaign further shadowed by the pandemic four weeks before Election Day.

Mr Trump had earlier said he was feeling good - after he had received an exceptionally aggressive course of treatment and a standard of care well above what is available to average Americans.

Because of that, his doctor, Navy Commander Sean Conley, said the president was in "uncharted territory" and would not be fully out of the woods for another week.

Mr Trump (74) made a point of sounding confident. He tweeted: "I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Centre today at 6.30pm. Feeling really good! Don't be afraid of Covid... I feel better than I did 20 years ago!"

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Dr Conley was also upbeat at an afternoon briefing and said the president could resume his normal schedule once "there is no evidence of live virus still present".

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, those with mild to moderate symptoms of Covid-19 can be contagious for as many - and should isolate for at least - 10 days.

Mr Trump's discharge raised new questions about how the administration was going to protect other officials from a disease that remains rampant in the president's body, and came as the scale of the outbreak at the White House itself was still being uncovered.

Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany announced she had tested positive for the virus yesterday morning and was entering quarantine.

Dr Conley repeatedly declined to share results of medical scans of Mr Trump's lungs, saying he was not at liberty to discuss the information because Mr Trump did not waive doctor-patient confidentiality on the subject.

Covid-19 has been known to cause significant damage to the lungs of some patients.

Dr Conley also declined to share the date of Mr Trump's most recent negative test for the virus - a critical data point for contact tracing and understanding where Mr Trump was in the course of the disease.

Mr Trump's nonchalant message about not fearing the virus came as his own administration encouraged Americans to be very careful and take precautions to avoid contracting and spreading the disease as cases continue to spike across the country.

First lady Melania Trump has remained at the White House as she recovers from her own bout with the virus.

Many in the White House are shaken and scared - nervous that they have been exposed to the virus and confronting the reality that what seemed like a bubble of safety has become a Covid-19 hot spot.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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