Trump Covid: President downplays virus on leaving hospital

US President Donald Trump has made a dramatic return to the White House to continue his treatment for coronavirus after a three-night hospital stay.

The president removed his mask on the balcony of the White House, where several staff and aides have tested positive for the virus in recent days.

“Feeling really good!” Mr Trump tweeted earlier. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

The US has had 7.4 million cases of Covid-19 and 210,000 deaths.

Questions remain over the seriousness of Mr Trump’s illness after a weekend of conflicting statements.

What happened during Trump’s return?

Telling Americans not to fear the disease in a tweet before he left hospital on Monday evening, Mr Trump said: “I feel better than I did 20 years ago!!”

He also tweeted: “Will be back on the Campaign Trail soon!!!”

Mr Trump’s diagnosis has upended his campaign for a second term in office, less than a month before the Republican president faces Democratic challenger Joe Biden in the White House election.

Wearing a navy business suit, tie and mask, Mr Trump walked out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the Washington DC suburbs pumping his fist.

“Thank you very much everybody,” he said, ignoring questions from the media, including one reporter who asked: “Are you a super spreader, Mr President?”

Following the short helicopter ride, Mr Trump was pictured alone on the Truman Balcony of the White House. He removed his protective face mask, before giving a thumbs-up and a military-style salute.

A couple of hours later, he tweeted a campaign-style clip of his return set to stirring music.

Mr Trump also recorded a video message to the American people, urging them to get back to work.

“You’re going to beat it [coronavirus],” he told them. “We have the best medical equipment, we have the best medicines, all developed recently.”

He added: “We’re going to be out front. As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front, and led.”

Mr Trump also speculated: “Now I’m better, maybe I’m immune, I don’t know”.

He also promised that vaccines were “coming momentarily”, although the US Centers for Disease Control has said no vaccine is expected to be widely available before the middle of next year.

Following Mr Trump’s return to the White House, his Democratic challenger Joe Biden said he was “glad” the president appeared to be “coming along pretty well”.

But he then criticised Mr Trump, saying: “Anybody who contracts the virus by essentially saying masks don’t matter, social distancing doesn’t matter, I think is responsible for what happens to them.”

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