Tue. Jan 18th, 2022

Austin, whose symptoms are said to be mild. will insulate at home for five days.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has been confirmed to have COVID-19 as the highly contagious Omicron variant causes an increase in cases across the United States.

Austin’s symptoms were “mild” and he will be quarantined at home for the next five days, the Pentagon chief said in a statement.

Austin said he was fully vaccinated and given a boost, which “made the infection much milder than it otherwise would have been”.

“The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce,” Austin said. “I continue to encourage everyone who qualifies for a booster shot to get one.”

Austin said he last contacted President Joe Biden on December 21, more than a week before he began experiencing symptoms, and that he tested negative for the virus that morning.

He will retain all authority and attend key meetings and discussions virtually “to the extent possible”, he said in the statement.

The Pentagon last week tightened restrictions at its headquarters over concerns about Omicron, and the U.S. military introduced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Austin is the latest high-profile U.S. official to test positive for the virus.

Several prominent members of Congress recently revealed that they had been diagnosed with the virus, while in October it was confirmed that Home Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki had COVID-19.

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