President Joe Biden missed the gala dinner at the G20 summit in Indonesia on Tuesday, but the White House was quick to assert that it was not because he had COVID-19 again, the Washington Examiner reported.
That was a concern because Biden had acknowledged the day before that he had a “cold” as well as the fact that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had tested positive for the virus after having spent time with the president over the weekend.
Biden tested negative on Tuesday
Monday evening — Tuesday morning in Indonesia — AFP reporter Sebastian Smith tweeted, “Biden tested negative for Covid, per White House. Said last night he had a cold.”
“This morning info came that the Cambodian PM, whom Biden spent time with at the ASEAN summit on the weekend, has Covid. @POTUS ‘not considered a close contact as defined by the CDC,’ per White House,” Smith added.
That determination that Biden was not considered a “close contact” of PM Sen is debatable, though, based on an accounting of events by the U.K.’s The Telegraph, which seemed to show that Biden had indeed been in close proximity to Sen for an extended duration of time.
Biden and the Cambodian prime minister
According to The Telegraph, Biden and Sen spent time together Saturday afternoon during a bilateral discussion on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathering in Cambodia, then sat closely next to each other during a long dinner event Saturday night, then met with each other once again during a meeting on Sunday.
The outlet further reported that Biden was seen repeatedly coughing during a press conference on Monday in Bali, Indonesia, during which he admitted that he had “a little cold.”
As for PM Sen, he said that he had “no idea” when or where he may have contracted the virus, and he reportedly returned home after testing positive for COVID, albeit not before having met and been in close contact with numerous other world leaders in addition to Biden.
WH says, “It’s not Covid”
Meanwhile, The Telegraph noted that President Biden also met with numerous other world leaders over the past several days during meetings and events in both Cambodia and Indonesia.
The concern over Biden’s health is understandable, given his advanced age as well as the fact that he had suffered two back-to-back COVID infections in July, and now obviously felt unwell after being in contact with somebody who then tested positive for the virus.
“It’s not Covid. He just had spent a full day in meetings and needed to attend to a few things tonight (nothing urgent!),” an unnamed White House official told pool reporters with regard to Biden’s absence at the G20 dinner.
“He spoke to (Indonesian President Joko) Widodo to send his regrets about missing the dinner and Widodo said it was not an issue and (Biden) looks forward to seeing him at the mangrove thing tomorrow,” the anonymous official added of the president in reference to a scheduled tree-planting ceremony.