MANILA (3rd UPDATE)— US President Donald Trump and wife Melania have tested positive for COVID-19.
"Tonight, @FLOTUSand I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!" Trump said in a Tweet Friday afternoon in Manila.
He earlier announced he and the First Lady were going into quarantine after Hope Hicks, a senior advisor who recently traveled with the president, tested positive.
In a separate tweet, Melania Trump said he and the President were "feeling good" and have canceled appointments.
"As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together," she said.
The US leader's test result came just a few days after his first presidential debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Trump, 74, is at high risk for the deadly virus both because of his age and because he is considered overweight. He has remained in good health during his time in office but is not known to exercise regularly or to follow a healthy diet.
Trump played down the virus in its early stages and has repeatedly predicted it would go away.
He rarely wears a mask and has ridiculed others, including Biden, for doing so regularly. Health professionals say that face coverings are key to preventing the spread of the virus.
IMPACT ON US ELECTIONS
The development alters the presidential race dramatically.
The White House issued a new schedule for Trump's activities on Friday that did not include his planned trip to Florida.
Biden is scheduled to campaign in Michigan on Friday. Both states are swing states that could decide the US election.
Trump, who has been criticized for questioning the efficacy of wearing a face covering, produced a mask from his pocket in the first presidential debate on Tuesday and said, "I wear masks when needed. When needed, I wear masks."
He then ridiculed Biden for wearing them regularly: "I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."
Trump has held regular rallies around the country to drum up enthusiasm for his candidacy against the former vice president, who has eschewed campaign events with large numbers of people. Trump has taken pride in his big campaign rallies, with crowds of people who do not wear masks or maintain social distance.
Futures for the S&P 500 fell 1.8% in Asian trading after the news, extending earlier losses, while barometers of risk sentiment, such as the Australian dollar and Treasury yields, dipped.
"Trump has been trailing behind Biden and he has clearly failed to narrow the gap after the first debate ... I suspect markets will lean towards the view that Biden will likely win the election," said Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.
"What I am worried [about] is that he will become even more aggressive against China after he caught the virus himself."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson kept working in isolation for a little over a week after testing positive in late March, but then fell gravely ill and was rushed into intensive care. He spent several weeks recovering before returning to work.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into quarantine in March after his wife was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro called it a "little flu" after being infected in July.
TRUMP AS SOURCE OF COVID-19 MISINFORMATION
A study from Cornell University in the United States said that Trump has been the world's biggest driver of misinformation during the pandemic.
The US leader once suggested injecting disinfectant into virus carriers as possible treatment.
Evaluating 38 million articles published by English-language, traditional media worldwide between January 1 and May 26 of this year, a team identified 522,472 news articles that reproduced or amplified misinformation related to the pandemic.
The most popular topic was "miracle cures" that appeared in 295,351 articles. The authors found comments by Trump drove major spikes in that theme.
In India, meanwhile, new research suggested that a small group of super-spreaders was responsible for almost two-thirds of coronavirus cases in the world's second-most populous nation.
The study, published in the journal Science, found that eight percent of all people carrying the virus were responsible for 60 percent of new infections.
The US has the most number of coronavirus infections in the world, with over 7.2 million cases. Of this figure, over 200,000 have died.
Many in the US, including Trump's supporters, have refused to wear masks claiming this violates civil liberties, despite experts' advice that they are effective in preventing infection.
— With reports from Reuters and Agence France-Presse