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

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis has come after a busy week running his administration and campaigning ahead of the 3 November election, a time in which he has interacted with many high-level officials.

The president announced positive test results for himself and his wife, Melania, in a tweet on Friday, at around 01:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

This followed a positive diagnosis for his close aide, Hope Hicks, who reportedly started feeling symptoms on Wednesday and tested positive the next day.

Since the president’s diagnosis, several people close to his administration have tested positive, including his campaign manager.

It takes five days on average from the moment a person is infected for symptoms to start showing, but it can be much longer, so the World Health Organization advises a 14-day isolation period.

The peak infectious period for the virus is the day before symptoms appear and the two days after, although a large proportion of people never show any symptoms at all.

The White House says it has begun contact-tracing. Here is a look at some of the people we know Mr Trump has crossed paths with in the last week.

Saturday, 26 September: The Supreme Court pick

President Trump announced his Supreme Court pick, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, in front of a crowd of about 200 people on the White House lawn.

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President Trump with Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the White House ceremony

On Saturday evening, President Trump held a rally at Harrisburg International Airport in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

Since the afternoon’s ceremony, Judge Coney Barrett has held meetings with various senators – including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – ahead of her much-anticipated confirmation hearing, which is due to take place on 12 October.

Judge Coney Barrett said on Friday that she had tested negative. Sources told US media she had the virus earlier this year.

Several people who attended the Rose Garden event for her announced on Friday they had tested positive.

They include former White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway and Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who are both on the judiciary committee, and the president of the University of Notre Dame, John Jenkins. It is unknown when they caught it.

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People who tested positive after attending Saturday’s ceremony, circled from left to right: Senator Mike Lee, University of Notre Dame president John Jenkins, Melania Trump and President Donald Trump

Sunday, 27 September: Golf and a veterans’ event

The president played golf at his club in Potomac Falls, Virginia, on Sunday morning and led a White House reception for the families of military veterans in the evening.

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Mr Trumps also gave an address from the White House briefing room on 27 September

Monday, 28 September: The Covid briefing

On Monday, President Trump held a news briefing – giving an update on his administration’s coronavirus testing strategy – in the White House Rose Garden.

It was attended by Vice-President Mike Pence, Health Secretary Alex Azar, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and the chief executive of Abbott Laboratories, Robert Ford, among others.

Also on Monday, Trump viewed a model of a new pickup truck – being built at a factory in Ohio – on the White House lawn. Representatives from the company, Lordstown Motors, attended, as well as two members of Congress.

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Mr Trump and Mr Pence held the virus briefing in the White House Rose Garden

The White House regularly tests officials who come in contact with the president. However, US media has noted that mask-wearing and social distancing around him is less common, suggesting that people may be too reliant on the testing system, which is not foolproof.

Tuesday, 29 September: Debate day

The president faced his election rival, Joe Biden, at their first face-to-face debate in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday evening.

President Trump flew there on his presidential plane, Air Force One, alongside his wife, adult children and multiple aides. Many were seen not wearing masks when boarding or disembarking, according to US media reports.

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White House interns cheer President Trump as he departed for the debate in Ohio on Tuesday

Also on the plane were: White House Chief of staff Mark Meadows; campaign strategist Jason Miller; policy adviser Stephen Miller; Robert C O’Brien, the national security adviser who tested positive for the virus in July; and Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan.

After landing, the president’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, was spotted getting into a staff van with Ms Hicks, the New York Times reports. Late on Friday, it was announced that Mr Stepien had tested positive for Covid-19 and was experiencing mild flu-like symptoms.

The debate was held at Cleveland Clinic’s Health Education Campus, a shared facility with Case Western Reserve University.

The organisers, the Commission on Presidential Debates, brought in numerous Covid-era safety precautions. There were no handshakes between the two candidates and everyone attending – including the 80 or so audience members – was tested before the event and asked to wear masks throughout.

In the run-up, Mr Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, posted a picture of herself backstage in a mask, alongside her sister Tiffany, sister-in-law Lara and stepmother Melania.

However, during the event itself, Ivanka Trump and other family members, including siblings Don Jr and Eric, were pictured mask-less. Moderator Chris Wallace has since told Fox News that they were offered masks by event staff but they waved them away.

Don Jr told Fox News on Friday he had tested negative.

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The Trump children watched the debate without masks, Melania Trump wore hers as she sat down but then removed it

Observers said those on Mr Biden’s side of the room kept their masks on.

Mr Trump and Mr Biden kept a distance during the debate, at podiums on opposite sides of the stage.

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Mr Trump and Mr Biden loudly spoke over each other throughout the contentious debate

When the candidates were greeted by the wives on stage afterwards, Jill Biden wore a mask and Melania Trump didn’t.

At a separate campaign event in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Vice-President Mike Pence said he had been in the Oval Office with President Trump earlier that day. It is thought to be their last in-person meeting. On Friday, Mr Pence said he and his wife Karen Pence had tested negative, as have Mr and Mrs Biden.

President Trump and much of his entourage flew back to Washington DC on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, 30 September: A fundraiser and a rally

The day after the debate, President Trump was straight back into campaign business, flying to Minnesota. Ms Hicks was among those accompanying him.

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Top Trump officials, including Hope Hicks (right), travelled with Mr Trump to Minnesota

He attended a closed-door fundraiser at a private home in Minneapolis, and he later held a large rally in at an airport in Duluth, in front of a crowd of thousands. Few wore masks but there was distance between them and the president.

Minnesota Congressman Kurt Daudt tweeted a picture of himself close to Mr Trump, with neither wearing masks.

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The president speaks to supporters after landing in Minneapolis

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The president’s rally at Duluth airport

On Wednesday evening, Mr Trump and various aides returned to Washington DC on Air Force One again.

Ms Hicks, who was feeling unwell, was isolated in a separate cabin, according to US media. She reportedly disembarked from the back of the plane, instead of the front alongside the other passengers.

Thursday, 1 October: More fundraising

President Trump flew to his Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey for a private fundraiser.

Several aides who were in proximity to Ms Hicks scrapped their plans to accompany the president, according to the Associated Press.

Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, who is thought to have been in close contact with Ms Hicks, held a briefing for reporters at the White House on Thursday, without mentioning her colleague’s test and without wearing a mask. She has since said she did not know about the diagnosis.

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Mr Trump took Air Force One to New Jersey

That night, in pre-taped remarks to the annual Al Smith dinner in New York City, held virtually this year, Mr Trump said that “the end of the pandemic is in sight”.

1601713521 906 Trumps Covid contact Who he met and whos tested positive

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Media caption“The end of the pandemic is in sight,” President Trump told a dinner on Thursday

He later announced in an evening interview on Fox News that he and the first lady were being tested for the virus.

Though it is not known how many of his supporters he came into contact with in recent days, he told Fox presenter Sean Hannity that people were always wanting to get close to him. “They want to hug you, and they want to kiss you,” he said.

Friday, 2 October: The announcement

President Trump announced that he and Mrs Trump had tested positive around 01:00 on Friday in a tweet, adding that they will begin the “quarantine and recovery process immediately”.

Just before 11:00, his chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told reporters the president has “mild symptoms” but remains in “good spirits”.

Mrs Trump tweeted to say she also had mild symptoms.

1601713521 680 Trumps Covid contact Who he met and whos tested positive

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Media captionThe president has “mild symptoms” but will “remain on the job”, says White House chief of staff Mark Meadows

Test results

So far, the vast majority of released test results have been negative. No-one can be sure who caught the virus first among these leading US political figures and their relatives, or who passed it to whom, or where they caught it.

A negative test usually means a person does not have Covid-19.

However, test accuracy can vary depending on when a sample is taken during the course of the illness, and one taken very soon after exposure may not give an accurate result.

Thursday

Hope Hicks, president’s adviser – positive

Friday

Donald Trump, president – positive

Melania Trump, first lady – positive

Former White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway – positive

Joe Biden, presidential candidate – negative

Jill Biden, wife of Joe Biden – negative

Mike Pence, vice-president – negative

Karen Pence, second lady – negative

Kamala Harris, vice-presidential candidate – negative

Doug Emhoff, husband of Kamala Harris – negative

Amy Coney Barrett, Supreme Court nominee – negative

Mike Lee, Utah senator on judiciary committee – positive

Thom Tillis, North Carolina senator on judiciary committee – positive

Mike Pompeo, secretary of state – negative

Steve Mnuchin, treasury secretary – negative

Alex Azar, secretary of health and human services – negative

William Barr, attorney general – negative

Ivanka Trump, president’s daughter – negative

Jared Kushner, president’s son-in-law – negative

Donald Trump Jr – negative

Bill Stepien, president’s campaign manager – positive

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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 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

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  • 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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