Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Coronavirus: Pompeo will not isolate himself after Afghanistan and Qatar trip

Medical official says neither country was on US caution list, but Qatar was added on day Pompeo returned

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not isolate himself after returning from Afghanistan and Qatar on Tuesday because neither was on a US government list calling for precautions, a State Department medical official said.

The official said Mr Pompeo’s planned movements in both places and the prior screening of people who came into contact with him meant it was a low or no-risk environment.

But Qatar was added to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention's Level 3 list on Tuesday.

This means visitors “should stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health and practise social distancing".

The official made references to an earlier version of the list, seemingly unaware of Tuesday’s update.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Qatar’s addition to the list would kead to Mr Pompeo isolating himself for two weeks.

On Monday he announced a $1 billion (Dh3,67bn) cut in US aid to Afghanistan after he failed to convince President Ashraf Ghani and his political adversary Abdullah Abdullah to end a feud that has helped to jeopardise a US-led peace effort.

Mr Pompeo met both men, separately and together, while in Kabul on Monday.

On his way back to Washington, he met for 75 minutes at a military base in Qatar with Taliban officials, including their top negotiator, Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The official stressed that Mr Pompeo was in carefully controlled environments during his trip, and that all those with him on a US government plane and in Afghanistan were screened for fever.

“According to the CDC guidance, this is either low or no risk,” the official said.

“You can find in the guidance that being within six feet for a prolonged period of time with a lab confirmed coronavirus patient. OK, well we can all agree that didn’t happen."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will reportedly not self-isolate after his trip this week to Afghanistan and Qatar. AP Photo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will reportedly not self-isolate after his trip this week to Afghanistan and Qatar. AP Photo

Throughout the 51-hour trip, the secretary and his staff flew on helicopters, spent time in rooms with officials and posed with US personnel for photographers in settings where it was impossible to practise social distancing.

The official did not address whether all those who met Mr Pompeo in Qatar had been screened but said it was a “very controlled environment".

Updated: March 25, 2020 10:41 AM

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