Secretary of State Antony Blinken is cutting his overseas trip to Southeast Asia short after a member of the press traveling with the top US diplomat tested positive for Covid-19 Wednesday, according to the US State Department.
Blinken will no longer have scheduled meetings and events in Thailand, which were supposed to begin on Thursday morning, and instead will make his way back to the United States.
The individual tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and is in isolation and will not continue traveling with Blinken, State Department spokesperson Ned Price announced Wednesday.
Blinken and his senior staff tested negative for Covid-19 on Tuesday night and upon arrival in Malaysia.
“We will continue to adhere to and go beyond CDC guidance, including with our rigorous testing protocol, for the remaining traveling party,” Price said in a statement.
Blinken has already visited the United Kingdom, Indonesia and Malaysia on his more-than-a-week long international trip, which marks his first visit to Southeast Asia as President Joe Biden’s top diplomat. He had planned to visit Thailand and Hawaii as his last stops before returning to Washington, DC, on Saturday.
Blinken spoke with Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai over the phone on Wednesday and “expressed his deep regret” that he will not visit Thailand this week, according to Price.
Blinken “explained that in order to mitigate the risk of the spread of Covid-19 and to prioritize the health and safety of the US traveling party, and those they would otherwise come into contact with the Secretary would be returning to Washington, DC, out of an abundance of caution,” Price said.
Blinken invited the foreign minister to visit Washington “at the earliest opportunity and noted that he looked forward to traveling to Thailand as soon as possible,” Price added.
The route Blinken will take home includes short logistical stops in Bangkok and Guam. He will then go onto Hawaii before flying back to DC.
This story has been updated.