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Saturday Oct 10 2020

US President Trump plans return to campaign with first public event since contracting coronavirus

In this file photo taken on September 24, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport, in Jacksonville, Florida. — AFP

US President Donald Trump plans his first steps toward resuming in-person election campaigning on Saturday when he delivers a speech to supporters at the White House, aiming to show he has beaten the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump has been sidelined for more than week since his COVID-19 diagnosis during a critical juncture in campaigning for the November 3 election. Opinion polls show Democratic nominee Joe Biden leading Trump by a significant margin nationally, but more narrowly in some of the battleground states that may determine the outcome.

The president has yet to be certified as virus-free by his medical team, but he was cleared to resume public engagements as of Saturday. He is expected to make remarks around a “law and order” theme from a White House balcony to a crowd of hundreds on the lawn below.

On Monday, Trump plans a campaign rally in central Florida, a must-win state for his hopes of a second term.

Questions remain about whether Trump, who announced on October 2 he had the virus and spent three nights in a military hospital, is still contagious.

In an appearance on Fox News on Friday evening, Trump said he was tested again for the virus but did not disclose the result. He also said he had stopped taking medications to combat COVID-19. “I feel really strong,” Trump said.

Trump and his administration have faced criticism for their handling of the pandemic, as well as for a lax approach to mask-wearing and social distancing in the White House and - in recent days - confusing messages about how ill the president has been.