WASHINGTON – US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has quarantined himself at home for the next five days after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I tested positive this morning for COVID-19. I requested the test today after exhibiting symptoms while at home on leave,” Austin said in a statement late Sunday. “My symptoms are mild, and I am following my physician’s directions.”

Austin, 68, said that he is fully vaccinated and was boosted in October.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks would represent him as necessary.

“The vaccines work and will remain a military medical requirement for our workforce,” Austin added. “I continue to encourage everyone eligible for a booster shot to get one.”

His last meeting with President Biden occurred on Tuesday, December 21st, more than a week before he began to experience symptoms and he tested negative for the virus that morning..

Austin is the latest high-profile US official to contract Covid-19 as the Omicron variant drives a record surge in infections.

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