March 12, 2020 / 7:51 PM / 19 days ago

Trump met Brazilian official with coronavirus, but says 'not concerned'

WASHINGTON/BRASILIA (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was not concerned about the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus after dining last week with a Brazilian government official who has since tested positive for the disease.

U.S. President Donald Trump listens to questions from the news media while meeting with Ireland's Prime Minister, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis?

The day after announcing curbs on travel to the United States by European Union residents, Trump brushed off concerns about his possible exposure to the virus, which has sickened more than 126,000 people in a worldwide pandemic.

“Let’s put it this way: I’m not concerned,” Trump told reporters while meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who had been at the dinner with Trump in Palm Beach, Florida, has been tested for coronavirus and is awaiting the result, his son Eduardo wrote on Twitter, adding that the president was not showing any symptoms.

Brazilian officials on Thursday confirmed that Brazil’s communications secretary, Fabio Wajngarten, has the coronavirus and is now under quarantine at his home.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said Trump and Pence had “almost no interactions” with the Brazilian official and that they “do not require being tested at this time.”

She said the White House medical unit and the U.S. Secret Service are ensuring that “every precaution is taken” to ensure the good health of Trump and Pence, their families and staff.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will update everyone as we get more information,” she said.

The coronavirus pandemic and fallout is shaping up to be perhaps the greatest crisis of Trump’s presidency. The front-runner seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump’s bid for re-election later this year, former Vice President Joe Biden, spoke on the coronavirus outbreak on Thursday afternoon.

Wajngarten had been on an official visit to the United States with Bolsonaro and posted a photo on Instagram of the meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club last Saturday, showing him standing next to Trump while wearing a “Make Brazil Great Again” cap. Vice President Mike Pence was next to Trump.

Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported that Bolsonaro’s test results were due Friday. It added that other cabinet ministers on the trip will also be tested.

U.S. Senator Rick Scott of Florida on Thursday said he would quarantine himself after meeting with a member of Bolsonaro’s staff during the visit.

“While I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me,” Scott said in a statement. “The health and safety of the American people is my focus and I have made the decision to self-quarantine.”

Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, a federal congressman who also attended the meeting at Mar-a-Lago, said on Twitter that he was on his way to get tested. Four days ago, he posted a photo of himself standing behind the U.S. president, next to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and close to his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Brazil’s foreign minister, defense minister and Brazil’s chief national security advisor were also in the image, along with the Brazilian president.

Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, and Lisandra Paraguassu in Miami, writing by Scott Malone and Steve Holland; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Cynthia Osterman

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