Trump valet has coronavirus; president again tests negative

US President Donald Trump gestures during a meeting about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response with Texas Governor Greg Abbott in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, May 7, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 07 May 2020

Trump valet has coronavirus; president again tests negative

WASHINGTON: A member of the military serving as one of President Donald Trump’s valets has tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said Thursday. It said Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have since tested negative for the virus and “remain in good health.”
It marked the latest coronavirus scare for the president, and the first known instance where a person who has come in close proximity to the president has tested positive since several people present at his private Florida club were diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March. The person tested positive on Wednesday, the White House said.
The White House was moving to shore up its protection protocols to protect the nation’s political leaders. Trump said that some staffers who interact with him closely would now be tested daily. Pence told reporters that both he and Trump would now be tested daily as well.
Trump, 73, said the incident was a bit concerning. “It’s a little bit strange but it’s one of those things,” he told reporters. “As I said, you know, I said yesterday, governor, all people are warriors in this country. Right now we’re all warriors.”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement, “We were recently notified by the White House Medical Unit that a member of the United States Military, who works on the White House campus, has tested positive for Coronavirus.”
He added, “The President and the Vice President have since tested negative for the virus and they remain in great health.”
A person familiar with the matter said the member of the military who tested positive was one of the president’s valets. Several valets cater to the president and his guests at the White House, including serving meals and providing drinks.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Trump told reporters that he was tested Wednesday and again Thursday. He added, “I’ve had very little contact, personal contact, with this gentleman.”
Trump said the health scare showed the “fallacy” of calls for widespread nationwide testing. “Testing is not a perfect art,” he said, adding, “Even when you test once a day somebody could, something happens where they catch something.”
The White House began instituting safety protocols nearly two months ago, including frequent temperature checks. Last month it began administering rapid COVID-19 tests to all those in close proximity to the president, with staffers being tested about once a week.
Federal guidance has been that a person who was exposed to a confirmed case of the virus should self-isolate for 14 days, but a different set of recommendations apply to those deemed essential workers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says essential workers can continue to report to work as long as they monitor their temperature at least twice a day and wear a mask.
Trump and Pence have generally refrained from wearing masks, citing the fact that they are regularly tested.
Trump told reporters his valets wear masks, and claimed “a lot of people in the White House wear masks.”

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Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

The wreckage of the car where six French aid workers, their local guide and the driver were killed by unidentified gunmen riding motorcycles in an area of southwestern Niger. (AFP)
Updated 10 August 2020

Troops from Niger and France hunt for killers of aid workers in Niger nature reserve

  • Attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group of aid workers as they drove through the giraffe reserve
  • France has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert

NIAMEY: French and Nigerien soldiers searched through a giraffe reserve and the surrounding area in Niger on Monday for traces of the gunmen who killed six French aid workers, a French military source said.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor also opened an investigation into the incident, in which attackers on motorbikes ambushed the group as it drove through the reserve located 65 km (40 miles) from the capital Niamey — an area considered safe by the Niger government.
The French aid workers were employed by the charity ACTED. A local driver working for the relief group and a guide were also killed. ACTED called the murders “senseless and cowardly.”
“This heinous crime must not go unpunished, nor will it distract us from our commitment to support the people of Niger,” said ACTED, which has worked to help vulnerable populations in the country since 2010.
No one has claimed responsibility for the assault. But France and other countries have warned people against traveling to parts of Niger where militants including Boko Haram and an affiliate of Daesh operate.
“Military operations are ongoing today,” the military source said.
In the clearest sign yet that France believes a militant group was behind the attack, the office of France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said it was launching an investigation on suspicion of the involvement of a terrorist group.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he shared their families’ grief. “Our determination to combat armed terrorist groups is resolute. The fight continues,” Macron tweeted.
The reserve southeast of Niamey is home to West Africa’s last sizeable population of giraffe in the wild. In the wet season, thick green acacia bushes dot the flat, sandy plains.
It is a popular attraction in Niger, a vast country that borders seven states in an unstable region including Libya, Mali, Chad, Algeria and Nigeria.
France, a former colonial power in the region, has 5,100 troops deployed in the arid region south of the Sahara desert since 2013. The United States also has soldiers based in Niger.
Nonetheless, militant violence has been on the rise.