US vice-president Kamala Harris tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday but is not exhibiting symptoms, a spokeswoman said, at a time when there has been an increase in cases among White House staffers.
Ms Harris has not been in close contact with president Joe Biden or first lady Jill Biden due to their travel schedules, her press secretary Kirsten Allen said. Ms Harris will isolate and return to the White House when she tests negative, Ms Allen said.
Infections have risen in some parts of the United States due to the highly transmissible Omicron BA.2 subvariant, even as cases are falling overall, according to public health officials.
In recent weeks, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, Ms Harris's communications director Jamal Simmons, White House press secretary Jen Psaki and deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre disclosed positive tests.
Other high-ranking US officials to test positive this month have included House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, second in the line of succession to the presidency after Ms Harris, attorney general Merrick Garland and commerce secretary Gina Raimondo.
Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, said on Twitter that he had tested positive on Tuesday.
Administration officials have said recently that Mr Biden’s regular contact with advisers and supporters could expose him to Covid-19. However, the administration is keen to project a sense of normality as many Americans are returning to work and socialising with friends and family, they said.
Both Mr Biden and Ms Harris are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and have received two booster shots. They have in recent weeks mingled with unmasked guests at the White House, including an event attended by 200 guests with former president Barack Obama to talk about Democrats' signature healthcare law.
With midterm elections scheduled for November, 51 per cent of Americans disapprove of Mr Biden's job performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, as the country struggles with high inflation and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, pushing Mr Biden, Ms Harris and high-ranking administration officials to travel more and spend more time in large groups without a mask. – Reuters