Shafaq News / U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday with mild symptoms and would attend meetings virtually as he quarantined at home for the next five days.
News of Austin's positive test comes after the Pentagon last week tightened restrictions at its headquarters over concern about the highly transmissible Omicron variant that has led to a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections throughout the world.
Austin, who is fully vaccinated and received a booster in early October, said in a statement he last met President Joe Biden on Dec. 21, more than a week before he started experiencing symptoms.
"As my doctor made clear to me, my fully vaccinated status — and the booster I received in early October — have rendered the infection much more mild than it would otherwise have been," Austin added.
Austin said he requested a test earlier on Sunday after having symptoms while at home on vacation. He was last at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Austin is one of the most senior members of President Joe Biden's administration to test positive for COVID-19.
U.S. authorities registered at least 346,869 new coronavirus on Saturday, according to a Reuters tally. The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 rose by at least 377 to 828,562.