Donald Trump has said he is starting to feel “much better” but the next few days will be “the real test” of his treatment for COVID-19.
In a video posted during his stay in hospital near Washington DC, the US president said on Saturday that he was “starting to feel good” and was looking forward to “finishing up the (election) campaign the way it was started”.
Speaking from his room at Walter Reed Military Hospital in Maryland, a tired-looking Mr Trump said: “I came here, wasn’t feeling so well, I feel much better now.
“We are working hard to get me all the way back. I have to be back because we still have to make America great again.
“I’ll be back. I think I’ll be back soon and I look forward to finishing up the campaign the way it was started.”
He added: “Over the next period of a few days, I guess that’s the real test, so we’ll be seeing what happens over those next couple of days.”
The four-minute video comes after a day of contradictory messages from his staff and medical team about his health since being diagnosed with the virus on Thursday night.
The medical team said he was improving and was already talking about returning to the White House, but minutes later his chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that his vital signs during the previous 24 hours had been “very concerning”.
In a Saturday night update, his doctor Sean Conley said the president is “not yet out of the woods” but his team are “cautiously optimistic”.
Mr Trump is said to be free of fever and improving, having made “substantial progress” since his diagnosis.
“He spent much of the afternoon conducting business, and has been up and moving about the medical suite without difficulty,” Dr Conley said.
The 74-year-old is considered to be at higher risk of serious complications from coronavirus due to his age, the outcome of his recent physical tests, and the fact that he is obese.
The president’s physician said he has been put on a five-day course of remdesivir – an antiviral drug originally created to treat Ebola.
He was given another experimental treatment – an antibody drug developed by Regeneron – before he was flown to hospital by military helicopter on Friday.
Speaking about the scientific advances regarding the disease, Mr Trump said in the video: “We have things happening that look like they’re miracles coming down from God.”
He thanked the staff at the hospital “for the incredible job they’ve been doing”, as well as the general public and world leaders for their support.
He added: “I had no choice because I just didn’t want to stay in the White House. I was given that offer – to stay in the White House, lock yourself in, don’t ever leave, don’t even go to the Oval Office, just stay upstairs and enjoy it, don’t see people, don’t talk to people and just be done with it.
“I can’t do that. I had to be out front.
“This is America, this is the United States, this is the greatest country in the world, this is the most powerful country in the world – I can’t be locked up in a room upstairs and totally safe and just say ‘hey, whatever happens happens’. I can’t do that.
“We have to confront problems, as a leader you have to confront problems. There’s never been a great leader that would have done that.”