Covid: Trump describes his illness 'a blessing from God'

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Mr Trump takes off his mask on his arrival back at the White House from hospitalImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Mr Trump takes off his mask on his arrival back at the White House from hospital

US President Donald Trump says he feels great after his Covid-19 illness, describing it as "a blessing from God".

Mr Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday, officials said, less than a week after testing positive.

The president has had no Covid-19 symptoms for more than 24 hours and has been fever-free for more than four days, his doctor, Sean Conley, said.

In a video message on Wednesday, Mr Trump said all Americans should have access to the treatments he was given.

Mr Trump also promised to provide the drugs produced by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals free of charge.

He said the experimental antibody cocktail he was given last week was a cure rather than a therapeutic measure, adding that hundreds of thousands of doses were nearly ready. But Regeneron's drugs have not been approved by federal regulators.

"This was a blessing in disguise - I caught it, I heard about this drug, I said let me take it and it was incredible," he said, adding that he would seek emergency use authorisations for the drugs.

President Trump renewed his attacks on China, telling Americans: "You're not going to pay for it. It wasn't your fault that this happened. It was China's fault. And China is going to pay a big price. This was China's fault."

Earlier, Dr Conley said the president had not needed any supplemental oxygen since going to hospital on Friday. He was discharged on Monday.

Mr Trump's supporters say that he has shown leadership since his release from hospital. But his opponents say his behaviour has become increasingly erratic.

The White House has also set out new safety measures after President Trump's return from hospital and the news that another aide had Covid-19.

The presidential election is on 3 November. One key issue in the run-up to polling day is a coronavirus stimulus package for the economy. Mr Trump appeared to abandon negotiations with the Democrats on Tuesday, only to say later he would agree to some measures individually.

What's the latest on Trump's health?

"His physical exam and vital signs, including oxygen saturation and respiratory rate, all remain stable and in normal range," a health report from Dr Conley said.

Media caption,

Four Covid rules broken by Trump and the White House

It added: "The president's labs demonstrated detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2-IgG antibodies on Monday October 5th."

Levels drawn last Thursday had shown "undetectable" antibodies.

"We'll continue to closely monitor and I will update you as I know more," the doctor said.

The body makes antibodies to help fight the infection, and coronavirus antibodies in the blood indicate a person has had the virus. However, it remains unknown whether their presence will prevent the person getting the virus again.

What's happened at the White House?

Mr Trump returned to the Oval Office on Wednesday afternoon to be briefed on Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico and the latest on talks with Democrats about a stimulus package for the economy, officials said.

Mr Trump has been in a defiant mood since returning from hospital, angling to work in the Oval Office rather than in the Residence, as well as pushing for an address to the nation and a resumption of campaign activity.

But many of his aides and staff remain in self-isolation.

Earlier in the day, chief of staff Mark Meadows said that anyone interacting with Mr Trump had been wearing "full PPE, masks, goggles and the like".

Media caption,

"Now I'm better, and maybe I'm immune": Trump's controversial return to the White House

A memo on Monday called for limited traffic on the first floor of the West Wing and at the Residence, with strict measures on protection equipment and hand sanitiser for anyone within six feet (two metres) of the president.

Reports said there did appear to be much more mask-wearing at the White House, which had been criticised by many opponents for its lax attitude before Mr Trump's infection.

Although the names of many people who have interacted with the president and tested positive are now known, it remains unclear just how many were exposed at the White House. At least nine White House employees have tested positive but the cluster could be much higher.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
White House communications head Alyssa Farah with a mask. It does appear there are now stricter measures

Some staff have expressed concern to US media that they were exposed without their knowledge to people who were known to be infected or were at risk of being Covid-positive.

Leading Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the White House was "one of the most dangerous places in the country", adding she would "not go anywhere near it".

Stephen Miller was the latest aide to test positive - on Tuesday. Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and at least three other press staff have also been infected.

Several senior military leaders are also quarantining after Coast Guard official Admiral Charles Ray tested positive.

Opinion polls over the past week have suggested Mr Biden had a lead of between eight and 12 percentage points over Mr Trump nationwide, but it is likely the election will be decided in battleground states where the race is often closer.

What about the economy?

On Tuesday, Mr Trump said he was ending negotiations with the Democrats over a Covid-19 relief bill and would only resume talks after the election.

After a negative stock market reaction, Mr Trump said he would support some stand-alone bills, later tweeting: "Move fast, I am waiting to sign!" a bill for $1,200 (£930) stimulus cheques to the American people.

Mr Meadows said there were about "10 things that we can do on a piecemeal basis".

Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump was "rebounding from a terrible mistake".

She reportedly was in talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday on the possibility of a bill to aid US airlines.