Blinken cuts Asia trip short after journalist’s positive COVID-19 test
A journalist traveling with Secretary of State Antony Blinken has tested positive for COVID-19, cutting short his trip to Asia.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the journalist tested positive in Malaysia on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. Price added that Blinken, his senior staff or other members of the traveling press corps have not tested positive.
Blinken was originally scheduled to spend Wednesday night in Thailand but will now shorten his stay in Bangkok to a brief layover before traveling to Guam for a refueling stop and then making his way to Hawaii, the AP noted. The change in plans was reportedly due in part to fears that others traveling with Blinken may also test positive, forcing them to quarantine in Thailand over Christmas.
In a statement obtained by the AP, the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said it had been in contact with the Malaysian government about the coronavirus case.
“The sole member of the traveling party who tested positive is observing all requirements of the Ministry of Health,” the statement said, according to the AP. “We can confirm that the person was not involved and has not participated in any of Secretary Blinken’s program in Kuala Lumpur.”
Blinken arrived in Malaysia Tuesday after traveling from Jakarta, Indonesia.
During a speech in Jakarta Tuesday, Blinken spoke about how the United States plans to expand its military and economic presence in the Indo-Pacific region to achieve what he described as a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
–Updated at 2:29 p.m.
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