Trump's physician, Dr Sean Conley said the president has been treated with an experimental antibody cocktail for Covid-19 and “remains fatigued but in good spirits."

US President Trump walks to the Marine One helicopter as he departs the White House to fly to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, October 2, 2020
US President Trump walks to the Marine One helicopter as he departs the White House to fly to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, October 2, 2020 (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump will spend a “few days” at a military hospital on the advice of his physicians after contracting Covid-19.

Trump departed the White House by helicopter early Friday evening for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The White House says that the visit is precautionary and that Trump will work from the hospital’s presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to continue his official duties.

Earlier on Friday the White House said Trump remains “fatigued” and had been injected with an experimental antibody drug combination for the virus that has killed more than 205,000 Americans and spread to the highest reaches of the US government.

The president’s physician, Dr Sean Conley said in a statement that Trump received an intravenous dose of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s dual antibody and was also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin and aspirin.

The president announced early on Friday that he and the first lady had tested positive for the coronavirus. The results came hours after it was revealed that top White House aide Hope Hicks had contracted the virus. 

Trump walked out of the White House on Friday evening wearing a mask and gave a thumbs-up to reporters but did not speak before boarding Marine One. Members of the aircrew, Secret Service agents and White House staff wore face coverings to protect themselves from the president on board the helicopter.

In a video taped before leaving for Walter Reed, Trump said, “I think I’m doing very well, but we’re go ing to make sure that things work out.” He remained fully president, all authority intact.

His Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill, said they have tested negative after encountering Trump at Tuesday's debate.

READ MORE: US President Trump and first lady test positive for Covid-19

Campaign events postponed

Trump's campaign events ahead of the November 3 election will be held virtually, his campaign manager said. 

"All previously announced campaign events involving the president's participation are in the process of being moved to virtual events or are being temporarily postponed," campaign manager Bill Stepien said.

Events involving First Lady Melania Trump have also been postponed, Stepien said in a statement.

"All other campaign events will be considered on a case-by-case basis and we will make any relevant announcements in the days ahead," he said.

He said any further information about the 74-year-old president would "come from the White House."

Even the second Trump-Biden debate, scheduled for October 15, is now in some doubt.

READ MORE: Trump joins growing list of world leaders testing positive for coronavirus

Contact tracing

News of Trump's infection came right after Hicks tested positive, sparking fears of a cluster of cases emanating from the heart of the White House.

Trump met with dozens of people throughout the week and reportedly went to a fundraiser in New Jersey after it was known Hicks had contracted the virus.

The White House said it was carrying out contact tracing, while Melania Trump's spokeswoman said the couple's 14-year-old son Barron had tested negative.

Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo all let it be known they had tested negative, and the White House said Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was a negative too.

Technically obese and in his 70s, Trump is in a higher-risk category.

Doctor Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease specialist in the New York area, said Trump had an estimated 20 percent chance of developing severe disease requiring oxygenation.

As the news rattled global stock markets, leaders including Germany's Angela Merkel Britain's Boris Johnson and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wished the president and first lady a speedy recovery – while Russia' Vladimir Putin predicted Trump's "vitality, good spirits and optimism" would see him through.

Eventful election season

While Biden vowed to continue his cautious approach to campaigning during the pandemic, the president's diagnosis injected even greater uncertainty into an election already plagued by crises that have exploded under Trump’s watch: the pandemic, devastating economic fallout and sweeping civil unrest. With millions of Americans already voting, the country on Friday entered uncharted territory that threatened to rattle global markets and political debates around the world.

The development focuses the campaign right where Biden has put his emphasis for months – and where Republicans don't want it: on Trump's uneven response to a pandemic that has killed more than 205,000 people in the US. And for the short term, it’s grounded Trump under quarantine in a hospital, denying him the large public rallies that fuel his campaign just a month before the election.

While he said he was praying for Trump and his family, Biden delivered a stern rebuke to the man who has repeatedly mocked him for his rigorous use of masks yet now finds himself infected.

"This is not a matter of politics," said Biden through a blue surgical mask. "It is a bracing reminder for all of us that we must take this virus seriously."

Pleading for Americans to wear masks, Biden said: "Be patriotic. It's not about being a tough guy. It's about doing your part."

“Going into crowds unmasked and all the rest was sort of a brazen invitation for this to happen,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on MSNBC.

READ MORE: Shares, oil prices slip as Trump tests positive for virus

Source: TRTWorld and agencies