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The secretary was set to visit Thailand and Hawaii before returning to Washington, D.C. Friday, following his stay in the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives at Subang Airport, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/Pool via AP)
Blinken expressed his “deep regret” in a phone conversation with Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai that he would not be able to continue his trip from Kaula Lumpur, Malaysia to Bangkok.
The secretary explained that, “in order to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to prioritize the health and safety of the U.S. traveling party and those they would otherwise come into contact with, the secretary would be returning to Washington, D.C. out of an abundance of caution,” State Department press secretary Ned Price told reporters.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken boards his airplane as he departs Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec.14, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/Pool Photo via AP)
Blinken in turn extended an invitation to the Thai foreign minister to come and visit D.C. and said he still looked forward to traveling to Thailand as soon as possible.
Price told reporters Wednesday that, following routine PCR testing, a member of the press pool tested positive for the coronavirus upon arriving to Kaula Lumpur.
The individual then tested negative but will remain in isolation and continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for the remainder to the trip back to Washington, D.C.
Blinken and his staff have all routinely tested negative for the coronavirus.