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Brazilian official who met Trump at Mar-a-Lago tests positive for coronavirus

The aide accompanied Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to a dinner over the weekend. Bolsonaro is being monitored for the virus, his press office said.
Image: President Donald Trump with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla,
President Donald Trump with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla, on March 7, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

A Brazilian official President Donald Trump met with over the weekend has tested positive for the coronavirus, but Trump said Thursday he's "not concerned" about their interaction.

Fabio Wajngarten, press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, posed for a picture with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Bolsonaro at Trump's Florida resort over the weekend that he posted on Instagram. The press office at Brazil's presidential palace confirmed to NBC News Thursday that Wajngarten had tested positive for the coronavirus.

His condition was not immediately clear. The office said he is in home quarantine. Bolsonaro is being monitored as well, the press office said in a statement.

"The Medical Service of the Presidency of the Republic has adopted and is taking all necessary preventive measures to preserve the health of the President of the Republic and of the entire presidential committee that accompanied him on a recent official trip to the United States," the statement said.

Brazil's Chief of the Secretariat of Social Communication (SECOM) Fabio Wajngarten looks on during a ceremony with country singers at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia
Brazil's Chief of the Secretariat of Social Communication (SECOM) Fabio Wajngarten in Brasilia, on Jan. 29, 2020.Adriano Machado / Reuters

"The Brazilian government has also already informed the US government authorities of the event so that they can also take the necessary precautionary measures," the statement added.

Asked about the pair being tested, Trump told reporters at the White House, "I did hear something about that. We had dinner together in Florida at Mar-a-Lago with the entire delegation. I don’t know if the press aide was there."

Trump, who made the remarks during a meeting with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, said he "did nothing very unusual" with Bolsonaro, who'd previously called the concerns about the coronavirus outbreak "fantasy."

"We sat next to each other for a period of time, had a great conversation. He’s doing a terrific job in Brazil and we’ll find out what happened. I guess he’s being tested right now," Trump said, but "I’m not concerned."

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement a short time later that Pence would not be tested either, but assured that officials "are monitoring the situation closely."

"Both the president and vice president had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time," Grisham said. “To reiterate CDC guidelines, there is currently no indication to test patients without symptoms, and only people with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a top Trump ally who was also at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, "has no recollection of direct contact with the president of Brazil" or his spokesman, but "in an abundance of caution and upon the advice of his doctor," has decided to self-quarantine while awaiting the results of a coronavirus test, his office said.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fl., meanwhile, announced he was going to self-quarantine because he met with Bolsonaro and other officials in Miami on Monday. "While I do not believe I interacted with the infected person, that individual was in the same room as me," Scott said.

"After consulting with the Senate’s attending physician and my personal doctor, I have been told that my risk is low, and I don’t need to take a test or quarantine. However, the health and safety of the American people is my focus and I have made the decision to self-quarantine in an abundance of caution," Scott added.

Over the weekend, Trump also came into contact with two Republican congressmen — Reps. Doug Collins of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida — prior to their decisions to self-quarantine after being exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. Neither has reported having any symptoms.

Trump said on Tuesday he hadn't been tested for the virus on the recommendation of the White House physician.

"I feel extremely good, I feel very good. But I guess it's not a big deal to get tested, and it's something I would do. But, again, I spoke to the White House doctor — terrific guy, talented guy — he said he sees no reason to do it, there's no symptoms, no anything," he said at the time.