By Arul Louis
New York, March 15 (IANS) President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he took the coronavirus that the media has been clamouring for and the White House tightened entry enforcement turning away a journalist who showed temperature above normal.
Trump has added Britain and Ireland, which have seen an outbreak of COVID-19, to the list of European countries whose citizens will be banned from entering the US. Earlier he had banned visitors from the 26 countries of the Schengen agreement that allows free within their zone. Britain and Ireland are not members of the group.
Trump said at a news briefing he took the test Friday night.
He said, “I decided I should, based on the press conference yesterday. People were asking, ‘Did I take the test?'”
He said the result of the test will be known in a day or two.
Trump said his temperature was checked before he entered the briefing room. Vice President Mike Pence and other officials also confirmed that their temperatures were tested before they came there.
A White House spokesperson, Judd Deere, said that “out of an abundance of caution” temperatures were being checked for anyone who could be in close proximity to Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
White House doctor’s office staff began enforcing temperature checks on journalists attending the briefing.
Vice President Mike Pence’s Spokesperson Katie Miller tweeted that the journalist was checked three times and registered above the 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Centigrade) limit set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
The journalist was not identified. Another journalist tweeting as the CNN White House Team claimed the person turned away had only a temperature of 99.9 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees centigrade).
The CNN tweet said, “A journalist was denied entry into the press briefing after having a 99.9 fever. He was trying to get access to the briefing and was turned away and is being held by the press office on the White House driveway.”
Pence, who is heading the Coronavirus Task Force, said that he and his wife would be “more than happy to be tested.”
A reporter accused Trump on Friday of being “selfish” for not getting himself tested after having been seen in the company of someone who had come down with it.
Trump said he would get tested but not as a reaction to the selfishness accusation made by the reporter.
He said, “Not for that reason, but because I think I will do it anyway. Fairly soon.”
Trump had posed for a picture at the Mar-a-Lago resort over the weekend with Fabio Wajngarten, the communications chief of visiting Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, at a dinner.
Wajngarten later was found to be infected with Covid-19. Bolsonaro shot down rumours that he was also infected with the virus, tweeting that a test had cleared him.
But Trump’s doctor Sean Conley later on Friday issued a memo that Trump did not need a test or a quarantine because his interactions with infected persons were considered low-risk under the guidelines of the CDC.
Referring to the Brazilian official, Conley said it was only a brief contact – “photograph, handshake”.
Conley said that they had learned on Friday evening that another person who had shared the dinner table with Trump and the White House delegation had shown symptoms of COVID-19, but only on Friday morning.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)