Less than 24 hours before he was due to meet at the White House, Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin gave a positive test on COVID-19. Martin attended an event in Washington on Wednesday night when he received a report of a positive outcome.
President Biden was also at the same gala ceremony, but it is unclear whether the two leaders interacted. Both 61-year-old Martin and 79-year-old president have been vaccinated and strengthened against the virus.
White House spokesman Chris Miger told CBS News that the president “had no close contact” with Taoiseach.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines that close contact occurred when someone was “less than 6 feet from an infected person for 15 minutes or more than a 24-hour period.”
Martin and Mr. Biden attended the gala fundraiser of Ireland’s funds at the National Building Museum, the annual “black tie” charity event where Martin was to be awarded the Leadership Award.
Dozens of deputies took part in the fundraiser. Martin was sitting next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi was scheduled to introduce Martin on stage, but at the end of her remarks instead said she left the event to attend an urgent meeting. A few minutes later, Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhol took the stage in an N95 mask and said Martin’s gala check-up was positive.
Pelosi’s office did not comment immediately.
According to a spokesman for the Irish government, the Taosich antigen test at about 5pm was negative. Later, when a member of his visiting delegation had a positive result, the entire delegation again conducted PCR tests “with great caution.”
Martin’s PCR test was positive.
Martin was to spend tomorrow, St. Patrick’s Day, with President Biden at the White House and the Capitol. It is likely that their bilateral meetings will now be held virtually, although none of the delegations has published an updated schedule.
On Tuesday, second gentleman Doug Emhoff received a positive result at COVID-19.
Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report.