Blinken tests positive for COVID, U.S. State Department says

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FILE PHOTO: 52nd annual Conference on the Americas

WASHINGTON -U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the U.S. State Department said, adding that he was experiencing mild symptoms.

The top U.S. diplomat, who is fully vaccinated and boosted, has not seen President Joe Biden in person for several days and therefore Biden is not considered a close contact, the department said in a statement.

“The Secretary will isolate at home and maintain a virtual work schedule. He looks forward to returning to the Department and resuming his full duties and travels as soon as possible,” the statement said.

It added that Blinken had tested negative on Tuesday and earlier on Wednesday before testing positive.

Blinken attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD) in Washington, D.C. over the weekend, a black-tie gathering of several thousand people including prominent figures in the media and politics.

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In a briefing, department spokesperson Ned Price said the agency was working to inform those who were in close contact with Blinken over the past days.

Blinken met with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde earlier on Wednesday and his Mexican counterpart Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday. Ebrard said in a tweet that he had taken a PCR test after meeting with Blinken.

Price, who routinely sees Blinken, said he tested negative about an hour before the briefing.

Blinken’s much-anticipated speech on the administration’s China policy on Thursday is being rescheduled.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis in Washington; writing by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman)