Covid Live updates: Omicron news, restrictions and more

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President Biden canceled his one-on-one meetings with Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin on Thursday after the prime minister received a positive result in a coronavirus test during a party in Washington on Wednesday night attended by the two men.

Instead, the two leaders met virtually Thursday morning.

Daniel Mulhall, Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, confirmed the positive test early Thursday, complicating the prime minister’s plans to spend the day with Mr Biden at traditional St Patrick’s Day festivities.

Biden, 79, who has been vaccinated and bolstered, was scheduled to meet Martin for a morning meeting at the White House, followed by a lunch at the Capitol and a Shamrock presentation at the White House. Officials said Biden would still be taking part in the lunch and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. During their virtual morning meeting, Mr. Biden was seated near a TV screen showing Mr. Martin, with a pot of shamrocks on the coffee table. The president said he was “deeply sorry for the inconvenience” of the default format.

White House officials said Biden had not been in close contact with Martin during Wednesday’s ceremony, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defined as being within six feet of someone for at least 15 minutes.

The prime minister’s test result came amid a flurry of infections among government officials in Washington in recent days. at most Nine Democrats in Congress have tested positive This week after the party’s retreat and late-night vote last week. Douglas ImhoffVice President Kamala Harris’ husband also tested positive this week, as did her Former President Barack Obama.

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White House officials have downplayed the recent wave of cases, noting that the overall rate in Washington remains too low. On Monday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the United States is in a better position to fight back The Omicron variant known as BA.2, Because of the number of people vaccinated.

“It has been circulating in the United States for quite some time,” she said of the new alternative. “We’ve been watching that closely, of course.”

Mr. Mulhall He said on Twitter That he accepted Mr Martin’s Leadership Award on Wednesday at the Ireland Funds Gala in Washington, an event also attended by Mr Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I responded to Taoiseach after he tested positive #Covid 19He wrote using the Irish word for leader of the country. “I wish Taoiseach good luck for his recovery.”

The spokesperson’s office confirmed that Ms. Pelosi, Who has been vaccinated? And boost up, he tested negative on a PCR test Thursday morning, and will continue regular testing and To follow CDC guidelines.

Ms Pelosi, who was photographed sitting next to Mr. Martin during the ceremony, appeared at her weekly press conference on Thursday, adding that she took the test almost every day. Mr. Martin remained masked until food was served, she said, and reported during the appetizer course that he tested positive.

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“We are very sad because on St. Patrick’s Day, this diagnosis was made at Taoiseach,” she said. “We will not be able to take advantage of the honor of his presence.”

Scheduled lunch – lunch friends of Ireland on Capitol Hill – It started on Thursday, without Mr. Martin present.

Irish journalists traveling with Mr Martin’s delegation have reported that he attended the first part of the ceremony, and photos from the event appear to show him sitting next to Mrs Pelosi.

credit…Oliver Contreras/Siba, via The Associated Press

An Irish government spokesman said in a statement on Thursday that the prime minister tested negative for the virus earlier on Wednesday and also on Sunday, before traveling to the United States.

The statement said his second test on Wednesday was taken after a member of the prime minister’s delegation obtained a positive test result.

Mr. Mulhall did not say whether Mr. Martin was showing symptoms.

In a tradition dating back to 1952, Irish ambassadors or political leaders present the US president with a pot of shamrocks on or around St. Patrick’s Day, usually in the White House. Many Irish Americans value this tradition as a sign of the close ties between the two countries.

Mr Martin may not now visit the Oval Office in this official capacity: his first scheduled visit last year has been canceled due to the pandemic, and as part of a coalition deal with two other Irish political parties, the prime minister is expected to hand over the prime minister before next March.

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The US ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin, said on Wednesday Twitter She canceled her plans to join Mr. Martin because she tested positive for the coronavirus.

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