Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has become the first member of the Senate to test positive for the coronavirus, he has announced.

A statement on his Twitter account read: “Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.

“He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time. Ten days ago, our DC office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Rand Paul.”

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The diagnosis comes days after his father – former senator and presidential candidate Ron Paul – suggested that the crisis was a hoax.

Ron Paul wrote on his website: “People should ask themselves whether this coronavirus ‘pandemic’ could be a big hoax, with the actual danger of the disease massively exaggerated by those who seek to profit – financially or politically – from the ensuing panic.”

He referred to Dr Anthony Fauci, the top health expert leading administration efforts to cope with the virus, as a “fearmonger”.

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