Five senior figures in the US Republican Party have gone into self-isolation after encountering an individual at the CPAC conference in February who has since tested positive for Covid-19.
The five are Texas senator Ted Cruz, Arizona congressman Paul Gosar, Georgia congressman Doug Collins, Florida congressman Matt Gaetz and Republican representative Mark Meadows. The latter is president Donald Trump’s new White House chief of staff.
A White House spokesperson reassured that Meadows was not suffering from symptoms and had tested negative for the virus. All five have gone into self-isolation for 14 days as a precaution.
President Donald Trump and vice-president Mike Pence are yet to be tested for coronavirus. Both were present at the CPAC conference in Maryland and came into contact with individuals who had interacted with the victim, but not the victim themselves.
As of Tuesday morning, the number of US cases had risen to 700 with 26 people confirmed dead.
A spokesperson for the White House said in a statement: "[President Trump] has neither had prolonged close contact with any known confirmed Covid-19 patients, nor does he have any symptoms.
"President Trump remains in excellent health, and his physician will continue to closely monitor him.”
Vice-president Pence told the US media that the number of cases in the US is likely to increase.
He said: “There will be more cases. But we simply ask today for the American people to engage in the common sense practices.”
Pence confirmed that the White House was in talks with Congress about providing sick pay for workers affected by the outbreak, while Trump pledged to take "major" steps to protect the US economy after shockwaves in the global stock markets.