Staff members close to both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have now tested positive for COVID-19.
Staff members close to both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Second Trump team staffer tests positive for virus

US Vice President Mike Pence may be forced to quarantine after one of his staff members tested positive for coronavirus - a day after it was revealed a valet to President Trump had tested positive.

The news comes as the US recorded its worth ever monthly joblessness result in April, with 20.5 million jobs lost in that tmonth and the unemployment rate soaring to 14.7 per cent.

And experts quoted by CNN claim China's real unemployment figure is probably over 10 per cent - or 80 million people out of work.

Mr Pence's press secretary Katie Miller got her results on Friday local time just before Air Force 2 was set to takeoff for Iowa. She is married to Stephen Miller, a top White House adviser who writes speeches for President Trump.

Katie Miller (left), White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Picture: AP
Katie Miller (left), White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence. Picture: AP

According to The Sun, pool reporters noted on Friday morning that Air Force 2 was being held on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews for close to an hour.

It eventually took off with Vice President Pence, but only after a few staff members disembarked from the aircraft.

A White House source initially told The Sun that an unspecified staff member linked to someone who boarded the flight tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Katie Miller with husband Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser. Picture: AP
Katie Miller with husband Stephen Miller, a senior White House adviser. Picture: AP

It was later revealed by reporters that the staff member who tested positive for coronavirus was part of Mr Pence's team and early today it was reported that press secretary Katie Miller was the person infected.

US Vice President Mike Pence may be placed under quarantine after one of his staff members tested positive for COVID-19, a day after a Trump valet also tested positive. Picture: AP Photo
US Vice President Mike Pence may be placed under quarantine after one of his staff members tested positive for COVID-19, a day after a Trump valet also tested positive. Picture: AP Photo

This news comes one day after it was learned that one of US President Donald Trump's valets had tested positive for COVID-19.

In the wake of this news, it was announced that the White House would start rapid testing all staff members.

Mr Trump says he is frequently tested for coronavirus and will soon undertake an antibody test which could show if he has already had the virus.

He said staff would be tested every day from now on, as the valet had been tested four days prior and returned a negative result.

The President said some White House staff have "already started" wearings masks. Mr Trump has not worn a mask in public but claimed he wore one "backstage" during a visit to a Honeywell face mask factory in Arizona.

 

TRUMP OFFERS BIDEN COVID-19 TESTING KIT AS ECONOMY PLUNGES

Mr Trump said on Friday that he is willing to provide Joe Biden, his presumptive Democratic opponent, with a rapid COVID-19 testing system so Mr Biden can return to the campaign trail.

Mr Trump, who this week made his first trip out of Washington in more than a month, relies on a federal supply of coronavirus tests so that he can maintain a more traditional schedule, while Mr Biden has been isolating at home for nearly two months.

 

 

In a telephone interview with Fox & Friends, Mr Trump said he would be willing to provide the former vice president with the same coronavirus tests he uses.

"Yes, 100 per cent. I'd love to see him get out of the basement so he can speak," Mr Trump said, needling Mr Biden for holding virtual campaign events and media interviews from a studio in his home.

 

US UNEMPLOYMENT RATE HIGHEST SINCE GREAT DEPRESSION

The US unemployment rate hit 14.7 per cent in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression, with 20.5 million jobs vanishing in the worst monthly loss on record since the government began tracking the data in 1939.

The figures are stark evidence of the damage the coronavirus has done to the economy.

The coronavirus lockdown wiped out nearly all the positions created in the prior decade in the world's largest economy, the US Labor Department reported.

The unprecedented collapse drove the unemployment rate to 14.7 per cent, well beyond the peak hit in late 2009 during the global financial crisis, from 4.4 per cent in March.

 

 

In China, Beijing's official employment data does not include people in rural communities or a large number of the 290 million migrant workers who work in construction, manufacturing and other low paying but vital activities.

If those migrants are included, as many as 80 million people could have been out of work at the end of March, according to an article co-authored last month by Zhang Bin, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a think tank run by the government.

Other experts told CNN the 80 million figure is likely much closer to reality. It's also a lot more disturbing - it would mean that nearly 10% of people in China who are supposed to be employed are actually out of work, according to economists at Société Générale.

AUSSIES URGED TO PLAY IT SAFE AS LOCKDOWNS LIFT

Australians are being warned not to become complacent after Scott Morrison outlined Australia's path out of the coronavirus crisis with a three-stage approach to reopening the nation.

Under the Prime Minister's plans, stage one includes Australians being allowed to gather in groups of 10, and retail stores and cafes/restaurants being allowed to reopen but with trading restrictions.

A medical practitioner performs a test at a drive through testing clinic in Melbourne. Picture: Supplied
A medical practitioner performs a test at a drive through testing clinic in Melbourne. Picture: Supplied

Stage two would include larger gatherings of up to 20 people, including galleries and cinemas, as well as the return of organised community sport.

Stage three would include gatherings of up to 100 people.

Peter Collignon, a professor of microbiology at the Australian National University, welcomed the government's three step plan but warned breakouts of COVID-19 were to be expected.

"The main thing we have to watch is as we go through step one, step two, step three is we don't get unexpected findings," he said.

"We are going to still have clusters, we will see things like nursing home breakouts I would presume, we'll see workplaces like the abattoir for instance.

"I also think as winter comes we might actually see slightly more.

"To me it looks like a good plan that keeps to the basic principles - which I don't think we can compromise too much - but it's a way forward and I'll be watching and seeing how it goes as we move forward."

Prof Collignon said Australians needed to heed the advice of keeping 1.5m distance from others and good hand hygiene despite restrictions being eased.

"This is mainly transmitted via droplets and the big deal about droplets is they drop and that's why the 1.5m (rule) is there," he said.

"That can mean you can resume a lot of activities provided you keep to the rules with reasonable safety.

"Not absolute safety, but a reasonably low risk."

 

 

Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway said it's great news for the sector.

"All the signs are pointing to green shoots of domestic travel from June," he said.

Mr Westaway said while there was a long way to go before tourism returned to normal, members had already expressed their excitement about the plan for the way out.

"What's really important about today is that there has been a level of certainty put out there," he said.

"The level of uncertainty has been a big part of the angst for our industry."

But he said the biggest challenge facing tourism operators was the ongoing closure of state borders.

He said if businesses in the sector could be given confidence about when they would reopen, that would help stimulate its recovery.

Beachgoers pictured at Bondi Beach enjoying the water and sun. Australians are being urged to continue using common sense.
Beachgoers pictured at Bondi Beach enjoying the water and sun. Australians are being urged to continue using common sense.

But not everyone is happy with the Australian Hotels Association arguing the road map is inconsistent and could force some hotels and pubs shut permanently.

"Hotels have been left blindsided," chief executive Stephen Ferguson said on Friday.

"They basically will not be able to re-open their businesses until stage three of the recovery process."

Mr Ferguson said the plan failed to account for venues with large floor space and most would be forced to remain closed.

"We are told only 10 people can sit and have a meal in a pub restaurant area even if that area could safely socially distance 50 or 100," he said.

"Why can only 10 people be allowed in a dining area of a huge venue that could safely socially distance 120?."

A normally bustling laneway in Melbourne is dead. That’s set to change very soon. Picture: David Crosling
A normally bustling laneway in Melbourne is dead. That’s set to change very soon. Picture: David Crosling

People are cramming into supermarkets and work side-by-side on building sites, he said.

"Where is the consistency?"

He warned that many operators were already struggling with mounting debts after being closed for more than a month and the recovery plan could force some to close their doors permanently.

"Hotels have done the right thing, put the health of staff and patrons first the moment this pandemic hit - and we will continue to do so - but common sense needs to prevail here too," he said.

As of Saturday, Australia has just over 800 active cases after recording a total of 6900 cases to date.

The national death toll is 97: NSW 46, Victoria 18, Tasmania 13, WA 9, Queensland 6 (includes 2 Qld residents who died in NSW and are included in both the Qld and NSW counts), SA 4, and ACT 3.

722,000 people have been tested in Australia and more than 5.1 million have registered for the federal government's coronavirus tracing app, COVIDSafe.

 

 

 

LIVE ANIMAL MARKETS CAN STAY OPEN: W.H.O.

The World Health Organisation said on Friday that although a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan selling live animals likely played a significant role in the emergence of the new coronavirus, it does not recommend that such markets be shut down globally.

In a press briefing, WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek said live animal markets are critical to providing food and livelihoods for millions of people globally and that authorities should focus on improving them rather than outlawing them - even though they can sometimes spark epidemics in humans.

"Food safety in these environments is rather difficult and therefore it's not surprising that sometimes we also have these events happening within markets," Mr Ben Embarek said.

He said reducing the risk of disease transmission from animals to humans in these often overcrowded markets could be addressed in many cases by improving hygiene and food safety standards, including separating live animals from humans.

He added that it is still unclear whether the market in Wuhan linked to the first several dozens of coronavirus cases in China was the actual source of the virus or merely played a role in spreading the disease further.

Investigations are continuing in China to pinpoint the animal source from which COVID-19 jumped into humans.

 

 

 

ARRESTS MADE AS STRANDED CHINESE TURN VIOLENT

Nepal police on Friday arrested 45 Chinese nationals stranded in the country because of coronavirus restrictions after a protest turned violent, authorities said.

Holding placards such as "I want to go home!" they attempted to push towards a prohibited zone near the prime minister's office in Kathmandu.

Some police as well as demonstrators were injured after police used batons to stop them and the protesters threw stones.

"They may face charges of protesting in the restricted zone and violating the lockdown under existing laws," police spokeswoman Kiran Bajracharya told AFP.

Nepal suspended international flights on March 22 as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the coronavirus, and remain so until at least May 31.

While several countries, including the US, the UK, Australia and France have chartered evacuation flights for their citizens in Nepal, no official flights have been made to rescue stranded Chinese nationals.

 

 

 

LOCKDOWN MUTES EUROPE'S WWII SERVICES

European leaders held muted commemorations Friday to mark the end of World War II on the continent as coronavirus lockdowns kept crowds from celebrating VE Day.

The European celebrations came in stark contrast to the way millions of its citizens spilt onto the streets 75 years ago, waving flags, flashing victory signs and dancing in joy.

Street parties this year were banned in Britain.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron laid a wreath at the Arc de Triomphe monument at the top of a largely deserted Champs-Elysees Avenue.

 

A woman at a memorial ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II at a memorial in Lithuania. All over Europe, celebrations were muted. Picture: AP Photo
A woman at a memorial ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II at a memorial in Lithuania. All over Europe, celebrations were muted. Picture: AP Photo

FRENCH DAILY DEATH TOLL RISES AGAIN

 

The number of people who have died from coronavirus infection in France has risen by 243 to 26,230, a higher daily death toll than the previous day when it stood at 178.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that the number of people in intensive care units - a key measure of a health system's ability to deal with the epidemic - fell by 93 or 3 per cent to 2868, well below half the peak of 7148 seen on April 8.

The number of people in hospital with coronavirus also fell again to 22,724 from 23,208, continuing an uninterrupted three-week fall and down 30 per cent from an April 14 peak of 32,292.

France will start lifting its almost two-months old lockdown from Monday.

 

The deserted terrace of a closed restaurant as France announced detailed road maps for gradual phased exits from its strict lockdown. Picture: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
The deserted terrace of a closed restaurant as France announced detailed road maps for gradual phased exits from its strict lockdown. Picture: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

 

 

UK FACING NO DRAMATIC LOCKDOWN CHANGES

 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not announce any dramatic changes to Britain's coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, adopting a cautious approach to try to ensure there is no second deadly peak of infections, his environment minister says.

Mr Johnson is due to announce the next steps in Britain's battle to tackle the coronavirus following a review by ministers of the current measures that have all but shut the economy and kept millions at home for over six weeks.

"You have to be realistic there isn't going to be dramatic overnight change, we will be very, very cautious as we loosen the restrictions," George Eustice said at a daily Downing Street briefing on Friday.

"We are not out of the woods, there are still major challenges with this virus."

Britain overtook Italy this week to report the highest official death toll from coronavirus in Europe.

The number of COVID-19 fatalities rose by 626 to 31,241, Eustice said on Friday local time.

 

Spain is opening businesses such as hairdressers, delivery food restaurants and book shops after weeks of lockdown. But official reports predicts a second and third wave of the virus. Picture: Getty Images
Spain is opening businesses such as hairdressers, delivery food restaurants and book shops after weeks of lockdown. But official reports predicts a second and third wave of the virus. Picture: Getty Images

 

SPAIN PREDICTS SECOND, THIRD WAVE OF VIRUS

Spain's army expects there to be two more outbreaks of the coronavirus, according to an internal report seen by the Associated Press.

The army report predicts "two more waves of the epidemic" and that Spain will take "between a year and a year-and-a-half to return to normality."

The document was published by Spanish newspaper ABC on Friday and later confirmed as authentic by the AP.

"There will be a second wave of COVID-19" in the northern autumn or winter the army report said, adding that it will be less serious than the initial outbreak due to higher immunity in the population and better preparations.

It said that a "possible third wave would be greatly weakened" next year if there is a vaccine available.

 

A Spanish couple wears protective face masks in Seville, Spain. Spain is opening businesses but the army has predicted successive outbreaks of oronavirus. Picture: Getty Images
A Spanish couple wears protective face masks in Seville, Spain. Spain is opening businesses but the army has predicted successive outbreaks of oronavirus. Picture: Getty Images

The report was produced by the army as its own forecast of the pandemic, which it can share with civilian authorities.

Spain's government has its own experts who make the final decisions on health policy, taking into account the opinion of other institutions and outside experts.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has warned that he considers it highly probable that the virus will make comebacks until a vaccine is developed.

Health officials in Spain are carrying out a epidemiological survey to determine the extent of the contagion.

On Friday, the health ministry said that medical workers had taken blood samples from more than 46,000 people over the first week of the survey. It plans to test 60,000-90,000 overall.

More than 26,000 Spaniards are known to have died from the COVID-19 virus. Spain has gained control over the outbreak which has infected a confirmed 260,177 people in the country and is now easing restrictions to activate its battered economy.

Originally published as Second Trump team staffer tests positive for virus