Two more test positive for COVID-19 on trip with Sec. Blinken

Two more test positive for COVID-19 on trip with Sec. Blinken

December 18, 2021

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Another two individuals on the week-long trip with Secretary of State Antony Blinken were discovered to have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to reports Friday. 

Two Air Force crew members on the secretary’s flight contracted the deadly disease, the Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed after the trip ended early due to a positive test by a member of the traveling press pool Wednesday. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Subang Airport, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)

Fox News could not immediately reach the DOD for comment, but a spokesperson for the Air Force told CBS News that both crew members were fully vaccinated and did not come into close contact with the secretary or senior staffers. 

“One aircrew member is asymptomatic, while the other is experiencing mild symptoms,” Air Force spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick S. Ryder told the publication. 

At least one of the crew members reportedly tested positive for the virus one day ahead of the press pool member. 

Blinken was scheduled to visit Thailand and Hawaii this week before returning to Washington, D.C., on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards an airplane as he departs Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday, Dec.14, 2021. 
(Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP)

The final two stops were canceled following the secretary’s stay in the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Malaysia. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters Wednesday that a member of the press pool tested positive for the coronavirus upon arriving to Kaula Lumpur, Malaysia, following a routine PCR test. 

It is unclear where both Air Force crew members tested positive for the virus, but the journalist who produced a positive test was required to remain in isolation in Malaysia despite procuring a negative test later. 

The Air Force spokesperson told CBS that both crew members are also abiding by “host nation protocols” and remain outside the U.S. at this time in isolation. 

Price told reporters that out of “an abundance of caution” the trip was canceled early.

“In order to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to prioritize the health and safety of the U.S. traveling party and those they would otherwise come into contact with, the secretary would be returning to Washington, D.C.,” he said.

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