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Pompeo to quarantine after contact

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus and will be quarantining although he has tested negative.

“Secretary Pompeo has been identified as having come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID. For reasons of privacy we can’t identify that individual,” a State Department spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The secretary has been tested and is negative. In accordance with CDC guidelines, he will be in quarantine. He is being closely monitored by the department’s medical team.”

The State Department did not say how or when Pompeo came into contact with the infected individual or whether he was displaying symptoms.

He did not attend President Donald Trump’s White House cabinet meeting earlier on Wednesday.

Diplomats said the State Department cancelled a holiday reception for foreign missions in Washington scheduled later on Wednesday.

A close ally of Trump, Pompeo has come under criticism for going ahead with planning of several holiday parties, defying US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which describe large in-person gatherings as “highest risk”.

The United States has recorded over 16.7 million coronavirus cases and over 305,000 deaths. Many states have tightened restrictions due to a rise in cases.

The District of Columbia imposed stricter guidelines for restaurants, businesses and gatherings citing escalating community transmission across the nation’s capital.

The latest guideline on the district’s website says indoor gatherings may not exceed 10 people.

Trump and his administration have been widely criticised for their lax approach to mask-wearing and social distancing at the White House.

The president was himself diagnosed with COVID-19 in October, while a large number of his staff have also tested positive and later recovered.

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