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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday wished US president Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump a speedy recovery within an hour of the US president revealing that he had tested positive for covid-19.

“Wishing my friend @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a quick recovery and good health," Modi said in a Twitter post in response to Trump’s tweet making public his condition.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!" Trump said in his post. This post came three hours after another in which he said Hope Hicks, a top adviser to the US president, has tested positive for the coronavirus and as a consequence, he and First Lady Melania Trump were going into quarantine.

Hicks travels regularly with the president on Air Force One and accompanied him to Cleveland for the presidential debate earlier this week along with other senior aides.Hicks travels regularly with the president on Air Force One and accompanied him to Cleveland for the presidential debate earlier this week along with other senior aides.

“Hope Hicks, who has been working so hard without even taking a small break, has just tested positive for Covid 19. Terrible! The First Lady and I are waiting for our test results. In the meantime, we will begin our quarantine process!" Trump said in his earlier post.

News of Trump testing positive has come in the midst of the election season and it is unclear how long it will be before the president gets back into active campaign mode. The US goes to the polls on 3 November and news reports say the next presidential debate in scheduled in two weeks.

Debates and commentary in the international media has focused on Trump’s age -- 74 – besides his being reportedly obese as factors going against him after contracting covid-19. There were also questions about whether Trump was sick enough to be incapacitated – i.e. unable to do his job – in which case, US vice president Mike Pence takes charge. This had in turn raised questions about whether Trump had been in close contact with Pence and his state of health. According to the US constitution, in case the president and vice president are unable to run the administration, House speaker – in this case Democrat Nancy Pelosi – will be sworn in to run the government and the country.

The White House had said in a statement after Hicks tested positive that Trump "takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people very seriously" and that it followed guidelines for limiting covid-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible.

The US president has been under attack for his rather erratic strategy to tackle the pandemic at home. He has called for reopening of businesses and educational institutions and questioned the use of masks to keep infection at bay while medical experts in the US cautioned against speedy reopening of the economy and advocated the use of the mask and social distancing.

Trump’s handling of the pandemic was one of the issues debated with Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden earlier this week during the first presidential debate with sharp exchanges between the two. In the televised debate, Trump at one point took out a mask from his coat pocket to press home the point that he was not against taking precautions. The president had been trying to push the issue out of the spotlight but his contracting the disease has ensured the subject will remain front and centre of the election campaign.

With more than seven million cases, the US tops the list of countries with the highest number of infections. Trump and key members of his administration have blamed China for allowing the pandemic to assume the proportions it has, calling it “the China virus" and the “Wuhan virus".

Trump is one of many leaders and politicians who have tested positive for covid-19. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalised in intensive care for covid-19 earlier this year, while Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro too had been infected. In India, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu this week revealed he had tested positive for covid-19. Others who have been affected include Home Minister Amit Shah and Shipping and Roads Minister Nitin Gadkari.

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