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Trump, stricken by COVID-19, heads to military hospital

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump appeared in public on Friday (Oct 2) evening for first time since being stricken by COVID-19, boarding his Marine One helicopter for a flight to a military hospital.

Trump walked out of the White House and gave a thumbs-up but did not speak. Members of the aircrew, Secret Service agents and White House staff wore face coverings to protect themselves from the president onboard the helicopter.

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In his first public comments since his diagnosis, Trump said he believes he is "doing very well", in a short video message posted on his Twitter account.

"I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support. I am going to Walter Reed hospital. I think I am doing very well. But we are going to make sure that things work out," Trump said.

"The First Lady is doing very well," he added.

The White House said the visit of “a few days” to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center was precautionary and that Trump would continue to work from the hospitals presidential suite, which is equipped to allow him to keep up his official duties.

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“President Trump remains in good spirts, has mild symptoms, and has been working throughout the day," said press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts, the president will be working from the presidential offices at Walter Reed for the next few days.”

READ: Trump to carry out duties 'without disruption' while recovering from COVID-19: US president's physician

Earlier on Friday, the White House said Trump had been injected with an experimental antibody cocktail by the White House physician.

He received an intravenous dose of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals's dual antibody, his physician Navy Commander Dr Sean Conley said.

Trump was also taking immune system boosters zinc and vitamin D, aspirin, and other generic drugs.

Regeneron's drug, REGN-COV2, is part of a class of experimental COVID-19 drugs known as monoclonal antibodies: manufactured copies of human antibodies to the virus that are being studied for use in patients with early illness.

Just a month before the presidential election, Trump's revelation that he was positive for the virus came by tweet about 1am after he had returned from an afternoon political fundraiser. He had gone ahead, saying nothing to the crowd though knowing he had been exposed to an aide with the disease that has infected millions in America and killed more than a million people worldwide.

READ:Biden hits the campaign trail after negative test for COVID-19

READ: US Vice President Pence tests negative for COVID-19: Spokesman

First lady Melania Trump also tested positive, the president said, and several others in the White House have, too, prompting concern that the White House or even Trump himself might have spread the virus further.

Trump has spent much of the year downplaying the threat of the virus, rarely wearing a protective mask and urging states and cities to “reopen” and reduce or eliminate shutdown rules.

The presidents physician said in a memo late Friday that Trump received a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail by Regeneron that is in clinical trials.

Dr Conley said Trump “remains fatigued but in good spirits" and that a team of experts was evaluating both the president and first lady in regard to next steps.

The first lady, who is 50, has a “mild cough and headache,” Conley reported, and the remainder of the first family, including the Trumps son Barron, who lives at the White House, tested negative.

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