Trump ‘much better’ but doctor says ‘not yet out of the woods’

WASHINGTON (AFP) – United States (US) President Donald Trump posted a video on Saturday from the hospital where he is battling COVID-19, saying he was improving and would be “back soon” – but acknowledged that the crucial coming days would be “the real test”.

“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well. I feel much better now,” Trump said from his business suite at the Walter Reed military medical centre near Washington.

“We’re working hard to get me all the way back… I think I’ll be back soon and I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started.”

Appearing relaxed in an open-collar shirt and blue suit jacket, Trump acknowledged that there was uncertainty about the course of the disease, which can hit recovering patients hard with no warning.

“I’m starting to feel good. You don’t know over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”

Late Saturday, White House doctor Sean Conley said Trump was “not yet out of the woods”, but that the medical team is “cautiously optimistic”.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Trump’s condition had them worried on Friday, but that he had since improved.

United States President Donald Trump works in the Presidential Suite at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. PHOTO: AP

“Yesterday morning, we were real concerned… he had a fever and his blood oxygen level had dropped rapidly,” Meadows told Fox News late on Saturday.

Meadows said there was never a risk Trump would have to hand over power, after a day of conflicting reports and confusion over the leader’s actual fitness.

“He’s made unbelievable improvements from yesterday morning, when I know a number of us, the doctor and I, were very concerned,” Meadows said.

His comments echoed remarks by Conley, who said Trump had “made substantial progress since diagnosis, and remained “fever-free and off supplemental oxygen.”

Trump, 74, had completed a second dose of therapeutic drug remdesivir and had spent “most of the afternoon conducting business,” Conley added.

A second doctor, Sean Dooley, said earlier in the day that the President’s cardiac, kidney and liver functions were “normal.”

Conley was evasive when asked earlier whether the President had received supplementary oxygen at any point since falling ill, only confirming that he hadn’t received any at the hospital or on Thursday – the day of his positive test. Several US media outlets said Trump was on oxygen at the White House on Friday before being admitted to Walter Reed.

Conley added to the confusion by suggesting that Trump had been diagnosed on Wednesday – not on Thursday, as per the official account – but he later said he had misspoken.

Soon after Trump arrived at the hospital, Conley said in a memo the President was starting a course of remdesivir and had received an eight-gramme dose of an experimental antibody cocktail.

Neither Trump’s doctors nor the White House explained why the President was taking unproven drugs if his progress was satisfactory.

Trump’s optimism over his recovery prospects has been tempered by news that more people close to the President have tested positive for the coronavirus.

They included campaign advisor Chris Christie, who was among several aides that helped Trump prepare for the first presidential debate who have since announced positive tests.

Christie and a number of senators and Trump aides are also among a growing list from the President’s orbit to have tested positive after attending an event in the White House Rose Garden last weekend.

The so-called “White House cluster” includes the President’s wife Melania, close confidante Hope Hicks, former White House top aide Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien and Republican senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee.