U.S. Defense Secretary Austin tests positive for COVID-19
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday with mild symptoms, but would retain all authorities as he quarantined at home for the next five days, News.Az reports citing Reuters.
Austin, who is vaccinated and has received a booster, said in a statement he last met President Joe Biden on Dec. 21, more than a week before he started experiencing symptoms.
"As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been," Austin added.
Austin said he requested a test earlier on Sunday after having symptoms while at home on vacation.
The rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has led to a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections.
U.S. authorities registered at least 346,869 new coronavirus on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 rose by at least 377 to 828,562.
"To the degree possible, I plan to attend virtually this coming week those key meetings and discussions required to inform my situational awareness and decision making. I will retain all authorities," Austin said.
He added that his deputy, Kathleen Hicks, would represent him in some matters.