© Reuters. File photo: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin attends the NATO Defense Ministers Meeting at the Union Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021.Reuters/Pascal Rossignol
Washington (Reuters)-US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that he tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday and had mild symptoms. For the next five days, he will be quarantined at home. Attend the meeting.
After the corner building tightened restrictions on its headquarters last Friday due to fears that the highly spread Omicron variant would cause a sharp increase in global COVID-19 infections, news came out that Austin had tested positive.
The military faces the challenge of maintaining military readiness for its troops, usually in close quarters operations on ships and aircraft.
Austin had been fully vaccinated and received a booster in early October. He said in a statement that the last time he met with President Joe Biden was on December 21, more than a week before his symptoms began.
“As my doctor clearly stated to me, my fully vaccinated state-and the booster I received in early October-made the infection much lighter than other conditions,” Austin added.
Austin said he requested a test early on Sunday after developing symptoms while at home on vacation. The last time he was at the Pentagon was on Thursday.
Austin is one of the most senior members of President Joe Biden’s administration who has tested positive for COVID-19.
In October, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, tested positive for the virus.
According to Reuters statistics, US authorities registered at least 346,869 new coronavirus cases on Saturday. The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States increased by at least 377 to 828,562.
Austin said that he plans to participate in the conference in a virtual way if possible, and he will retain all powers to manage the Department of Defense and supervise military activities around the world.
He added that his deputy Kathleen Hicks will represent him on certain matters.
“I continue to encourage everyone who is eligible for a booster shot to get one. It’s still a matter of preparation,” Austin said.
Approximately 98% of active military personnel are vaccinated against COVID-19, which is now mandatory for them.
Anthony Fauci, a top US infectious disease expert, said on Sunday that although early data showed that the Omicron COVID-19 variant is not as severe as other variants, there is still a risk of a surge in hospitalization due to the large number of coronavirus cases.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of December 25, Omicron variants are estimated to account for 58.6% of the coronavirus variants circulating in the United States.
Fauci added that the CDC will soon clarify whether COVID-19 patients should test negative to leave the quarantine area. Previously, last week, they were confused by the guidelines that allow people to leave without symptoms for 5 days.
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