US senator Ted Cruz has confirmed he is self-quarantining after coming into contact with a member of the public who was infected with the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The Texas senator, who established himself among the Republican Party’s most high profile figures after running for the presidency against Donald Trump in 2016, confirmed he had shaken hands with an attendee at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) who had since tested positive for the virus.

However he insisted he had exhibited no symptoms, and had instead been told by doctors the chances he had contracted Covid-19 were “extremely low”.

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In a statement Mr Cruz, who discussed his condition with senior party officials and medical professionals, said he had elected to place himself in isolation despite not showing any symptoms “out of an abundance of caution”.

“I’m not experiencing any symptoms, and I feel fine and healthy,” he said. “Given that the interaction was 10 days ago, that the average incubation period is five or six days, that the interaction was for less than a minute, and that I have no current symptoms, the medical authorities have advised me that the odds of transmission from the other individual to me were extremely low.”

He added: “Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution, and because of how frequently I interact with my constituents as a part of my job and to give everyone peace of mind, I have decided to remain at my home in Texas this week, until a full 14 days have passed since the CPAC interaction.”

The senator went on to say the public should “continue to treat this outbreak seriously and be driven by facts and medical science”.

The Maryland event was attended by a number of officials including both Donald Trump and the vice president – however neither is believed to have come into contact with the infected individual, who tested positive on Saturday.

They have since been quarantined in New Jersey.

A number of politicians across the world have contracted the virus which has so far infected nearly 110,000 people and killed more than 3,800 globally.

In Iran some 10 per cent of lawmakers were reported to have been infected according to state media, with several – including a senior adviser to the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei – dying as a result.

And In Italy the head of the nation’s second-largest political party Nicola Zingaretti said he had contracted the virus, confirming in a statement that he would remain in quarantine.

Concern was also expressed after a student whose classmates had met US vice president Mike Pence was placed in quarantine. His press secretary stressed that Mr Pence had not come into direct contact with the student.

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