United States President Donald Trump, who has avoided being seen wearing a mask in public, on Saturday wore one for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, AFP reported. The president was visiting the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington to meet injured soldiers and frontline health care workers.

“I’ve never been against masks but I do believe they have a time and a place,” Trump told reporters at the White House ahead of his visit. “I think when you’re in a hospital, especially in that particular setting, where you’re talking to a lot of soldiers and people that, in some cases, just got off the operating tables, I think it’s a great thing to wear a mask.”

Trump had for months refused to wear a mask in public, even as public health experts in his administration recommended one to slow the spread of the infection. He has also ridiculed those who wore mask, like Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

At the medical facility, Trump was seen in a navy blue mask emblazoned with a presidential seal. He did not make any remarks and said only “thank you” as he passed.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Biden said Trump had spent months ignoring the advice of medical experts and politicised wearing a mask. “Rather than taking responsibility and leading, he wasted four months that Americans have been making sacrifices by stoking divisions and actively discouraging people from taking a very basic step to protect each other,” Andrew Bates added.

The global coronavirus count is over 1.26 crore, while the toll has crossed 5.64 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Of these, 32.45 lakh cases are from United States, making it the worst-affected country in the world. More than 1.34 lakh people have died so far.

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