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Blinken ends Asia trip after virus case

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cut short his trip to Southeast Asia due to a COVID-19 case among his travelling party, a State Department official says.

The decision was made to mitigate the COVID-19 risk and prioritise health and safety, and Blinken had expressed by phone his deep regret to the foreign minister of Thailand, where he was due to attend meetings on Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

The positive case was confirmed on Wednesday while Blinken was in Malaysia.

He was in Indonesia the previous two days.

The Associated Press reported a member of the press corps accompanying Blinken tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur.

The abrupt change in plan was caused in part by fears that others in the delegation might also test positive, requiring them to quarantine in Thailand over the Christmas holiday.

The journalist who tested positive will stay in Kuala Lumpur for a mandatory 10-day isolation.

with AP

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