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Media caption“I think I’m doing very well”: President Trump recorded a video message before being flown to hospital

US President Donald Trump has been flown to hospital less than 24 hours after testing positive for coronavirus.

The White House said the decision to transport him to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was taken “out of an abundance of caution”.

Mr Trump – who had a fever – said early on Friday he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive for Covid-19.

The White House said he was feeling “fatigued but in good spirits” and was experiencing mild symptoms.

The news comes just over a month before presidential elections, where he will face Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

How did the president look on Friday?

Wearing a mask and suit, Mr Trump walked out across the White House lawn on Friday afternoon to his helicopter, Marine One, for the short trip to hospital.

He waved and gave a thumbs-up to reporters but said nothing before boarding the aircraft.

In a video posted to Twitter, Mr Trump said: “I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I’m going to Walter Reed hospital. I think I’m doing very well.

“But we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well. So thank you very much, I appreciate it, I will never forget it – thank you.”

The president’s children, Ivanka and Eric, retweeted his post, praising him as a “warrior”. Ms Trump added: “I love you dad.”

Upon arrival to Walter Reed, the president did not go to the emergency room for treatment, but went directly to the hospital’s presidential suite, according to the BBC’s US partner, CBS News.

What is the White House saying?

A White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement: “President Trump remains in good spirits, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the president will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days.

“President Trump appreciates the outpouring of support for both he and the first lady.”

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Media captionPresident Trump’s seven days before his Covid-positive test

Mr Trump’s symptoms include a low-grade fever, according to CBS. 

Walter Reed, in the Washington DC suburbs, is one of America’s largest and most renowned military medical centres. It is where US presidents usually go for their annual check-ups.

White House communications director Alyssa Farah said the president had not transferred his powers to Vice-President Mike Pence. 

“The president is in charge,” she said.

Under the US constitution, if Mr Trump did become too ill to carry out his duties, he could hand over his powers to the vice-president temporarily. That means Mike Pence would become acting president until Mr Trump was fit again and could resume work.

A fundamentally altered contest

The US presidential election has been turned on its head.

That sentence could have been written about any number of moments in a tumultuous year in American politics, but nothing quite like this has occurred this year, this decade, this century.

Just 32 days before the presidential election, Donald Trump has tested positive for Covid-19. Given his age, 74, he is in a high-risk category for complications from the disease. At the very least, he will have to quarantine while he is treated, meaning the US presidential contest – at least his side of it – has been fundamentally altered.

The initial implications are obvious. The president’s rigorous campaign schedule – which included visits to Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina in just the past week – is on indefinite hold.

Trump will certainly have surrogates on the trail for him, but given that he has relied heavily on his family and senior administration and campaign officials for such tasks in the past, and many of them may have to quarantine because of their own exposure to the virus, that campaign operation will be disrupted as well.

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What treatment has the president already received?

Mr Trump’s physician Sean Conley said in a statement earlier on Friday that the president had “as a precautionary measure received an 8g dose of Regeneron’s polyclonal antibody cocktail” at the White House.

The medication is administered to help reduce virus levels and speed recovery.

He was also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and aspirin, Dr Conley said.

“As of this afternoon he remains fatigued but in good spirits,” he added. The first lady was “well with only a mild cough and headache”.

How has the Biden campaign reacted?

Mr Biden himself and his wife Jill tested negative on Friday.

“I hope this serves as a reminder,” the Democratic White House candidate tweeted after the result. “Wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.”

The Biden campaign said it was in the process of temporarily taking down all its negative ads regarding Mr Trump.

Mr Biden’s staff said he would travel to Michigan on Friday as planned for several campaign events. He and his wife have wished the presidential couple a speedy recovery.

Speaking at a virtual campaign event for Mr Biden, former President Barack Obama also extended well wishes to Mr and Mrs Trump.

“Although we’re in the midst of a big political fight and we take it very seriously, we also want to extend our best wishes to the president of the United States and the first lady,” he said. “We’re all Americans and we’re all human beings and we want to make sure everybody is healthy.”

What next?

Officials said the process of tracking all the president’s contacts in recent days was ongoing, adding that Mr Trump was considering how he might address the nation or otherwise communicate with the American people on Friday.

But he pulled out of a video conference call with vulnerable seniors scheduled for Friday, leaving Vice-President Mike Pence to chair the meeting.

On Thursday, the first couple said they intended to self-isolate after one of Mr Trump’s closest aides, Hope Hicks, tested positive. Soon afterwards, they too received positive test results.

There has been criticism of Mr Trump’s decision to go to a fundraiser attended by dozens of people in New Jersey on Thursday, apparently when officials already knew about Ms Hicks’ symptoms.

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Murkowski to back Barrett for Supreme Court, despite opposing GOP process

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Sen. Lisa Murkowski will vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, despite her opposition to moving forward in an election year.

The Alaska Republican said Saturday she will split her votes on Barrett. She will vote against a procedural hurdle on Sunday to advance her nomination over a filibuster, due to her longstanding objection to confirming a justice so close to the Nov. 3 presidential election.

But based on the merits of Barrett’s credentials for the job, she’s a ‘yes.’

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Tension Has Escalated Between Tory MPs And Marcus Rashford Ahead Of A Vote On Free School Meals

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Tories must face up to their “conscience” today on a vote on extending free school meals over the holidays, Labour has claimed, as footballer and anti-poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford ramped up the pressure on politicians to back it.

The challenge from shadow children’s minister Tulip Siddiq came after another difficult morning for the government as Manchester United star Rashford said he was “paying close attention” to the vote and then got into a Twitter spat with Tory MP Steve Baker over who has the power to introduce the free meals.

Moments later Tory backbencher Anne Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, broke ranks to say she would be supporting Labour’s motion on extending the free school meals until next Easter. Education select committee chair Conservavtive Robert Halfon has urged the government to work with Rashford.

When asked at Prime Minister’s Questions to back the proposal by Labour, Boris Johnson said the government wanted to use the benefits system to support children in the hoildays.

“I want to make sure we continue to support families thoughout the crisis so they have the cash available to feed their kids as they need to do,” he said. 

Earlier this week government minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that struggling families can claim Universal Credit and that many parents do not like being labelled as being on ‘free school meals’ instead preferring to pay a modest sum of money to a holiday club to provide food.

Siddiq told PoliticsHome: “A lot of the Tories, Don Valley, Bishop Aukland and places like that they’re all a little bit worried. It’s the kind of thing that can be used against them in their patches.

“Even if they don’t walk through the lobbies with us tonight that they put a lot of pressure on the prime minister. And that’s how it happened last time.

“I know it’s not easy to break the whip but some votes are a matter of conscience and this is one of them.

“We’re going to be facing the toughest winter of a generation, there’s coronavirus, the end of the furlough scheme – children are in for a tough ride. Why can’t we just do one last thing for parents so they don’t have to worry?”

She said some Tories she had spoken to directly in Parliament on Tuesday were sympathetic to the issue but they did not want to break the whip.

The vouchers were introduced for the poorest families in August after significant pressure from Rashford. The England striker said today that the situation for children is now worse than in the summer.

The vote at 7pm is on a Labour motion calling on the government to continue directly funding free school meals over the holidays until Easter 2021. They say it would prevent a million children going hungry.

Rashford tweeted that he was paying close attention to the Commons today and to those who are willing to “turn a blind eye” to the needs of our most vulnerable children.

He wrote: “2.2M of them who currently qualify for Free School Meals. 42% newly registered. Not to mention the 1.5M children who currently don’t qualify.”

He then got into an disagreement with MP Steve Baker who said Rashford was the one with all the power to make the change on free school meals because he has more Twitter followers that he does, despite Baker being a politician for the ruling Conservative party.

Baker said instead Universal Credit could be boosted to try and help families..

Morris, who was elected in 2010 said that she would vote against her own party tonight because of the economic fall out for people in her constituency.

She tweeted: “The ongoing pandemic has had a heavy impact on many across Teignbridge, bringing with it significant economic difficulties for many. This is why I am supporting the motion calling for the continuation of direct funding for FSM over school holidays until Easter 2021.

“This time-limited measure is a perfectly sensible response as we deal with the economic consequences of Covid-19. Longer-term I believe it is right that those eligible should be supported through the Holidays & Activities Food Programme and the Universal Credit system.”

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Trump comment on ‘blowing up’ Nile Dam angers Ethiopia

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image copyrightReuters

image captionThe dam will be the biggest hydro-electric project in Africa

Ethiopia’s prime minister has said his country “will not cave in to aggressions of any kind” after President Donald Trump suggested Egypt could destroy a controversial Nile dam.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is at the centre of a long-running dispute involving Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan.

Mr Trump said Egypt would not be able to live with the dam and might “blow up” the construction.

Ethiopia sees the US as siding with Egypt in the dispute.

The US announced in September that it would cut some aid to Ethiopia after it began filling the reservoir behind the dam in July.

Why is the dam disputed?

Egypt relies for the bulk of its water needs on the Nile and is concerned supplies could be cut off and its economy undermined as Ethiopia takes control of the flow of Africa’s longest river.

Once complete, the $4bn (£3bn) structure on the Blue Nile in western Ethiopia will be Africa’s largest hydro-electric project.

The speed with which Ethiopia fills up the dam will govern how severely Egypt is affected – the slower the better as far as Cairo is concerned. That process is expected to take several years.

  • Who owns the River Nile – and why it matters

  • Egypt fumes as Ethiopia celebrates over Nile dam
  • How the Nile’s mega dam will be filled

Sudan, further upstream than Egypt, is also concerned about water shortages.

Ethiopia, which announced the start of construction in 2011, says it needs the dam for its economic development.

Negotiations between the three countries were being chaired by the US, but are now overseen by the African Union.

What did the Ethiopian PM say?

PM Abiy Ahmed did not address Mr Trump’s remarks directly, but there appears to be little doubt what prompted his robust comments.

Ethiopians would finish the dam, he vowed.

“Ethiopia will not cave in to aggression of any kind,” he said. “Ethiopians have never kneeled to obey their enemies, but to respect their friends. We won’t do it today and in the future.”

Threats of any kind over the issue were “misguided, unproductive and clear violations of international law”.

image copyrightReuters
image captionSudan is worried too – the Blue and White Niles meet in Khartoum

Why did Trump get involved?

The president was on the phone to Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu in front of reporters at the White House on Friday.

The occasion was Israel and Sudan’s decision to agree diplomatic relations in a move choreographed by the US.

The subject of the dam came up and Mr Trump and Mr Hamdok expressed hopes for a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

But Mr Trump also said “it’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way”.

He continued: “And I said it and I say it loud and clear – they’ll blow up that dam. And they have to do something.”

image copyrightReuters
image captionThe dam came up in a phone call with Sudan’s prime minister

What is the state of the negotiations?

Mr Abiy maintains that the negotiations have made more progress since the African Union began mediation.

But there are fears that Ethiopia’s decision to start filling the reservoir could overshadow hopes of resolving key areas, such what happens during a drought and how to resolve future disputes.

Related Topics

  • Nile

  • Sudan
  • Donald Trump
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia

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