United States

State Dept says Blinken tests negative for COVID-19 after spokesman tests positive

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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks as he and Thailand's Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai make statements to the news media at the State Department in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

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WASHINGTON, Sept 27 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday morning, State Department said, after department spokesperson Ned Price tested positive for the disease and is quarantining.

"After experiencing symptoms for the first time this morning, I tested positive for COVID-19 shortly thereafter, & will now quarantine for the next 10 days," Price, who is vaccinated, said on Twitter.

"I'm feeling under the weather but am grateful for the protection from severe illness offered by safe and effective vaccines."

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Price joined more than half a dozen meetings with Blinken last week in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, including with senior officials from Brazil, Britain, Turkey and the European Union.

In a regular briefing with reporters conducted by phone on Monday, Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said Blinken had tested negative as recently as Monday morning and none of the other members of the traveling party were currently exhibiting symptoms.

Asked if the department had notified foreign delegations that met with Price last week, Porter said officials had consulted with the State Department's medical unit and concluded only those who had contact with Price from Saturday onward were at risk of exposure.

"I just do want to underscore that spokesperson Price hasn't been in contact with any foreign delegations since Thursday, which is nearly 100 hours before he actually started to experience any symptoms," Porter said, adding that Price was not with Blinken or other State Department officials on Saturday or since then.

The State Department did not have any details on where Price contracted the virus, she added.

Price spent a good part of last week within the close circle of Blinken, including Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman and Undersecretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who have held their own separate meetings with a number of foreign delegations.

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Reporting by Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk, Daphne Psaledakis and Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski

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