Coronavirus outbreak

Aussie minister tests positive for Covid-19

From left: New Zealand Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister for Children Tracey Martin, Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, United States Attorney-General W
From left: New Zealand Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister for Children Tracey Martin, Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, United States Attorney-General William Barr and British Minister of State for Security James Brokenshire in the US on March 5. Representatives of the five nations met there last week for a meeting under the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

He joins growing list of global politicians feared to have been exposed to the virus

SYDNEY • A senior Australian politician tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday, days after returning from Washington where he met Ms Ivanka Trump and US Attorney-General William Barr.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was in the United States last week for a meeting with members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance - Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand - that included Mr Barr.

He also met US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka on March 6, according to a photo posted by the Australian embassy in Washington. It is not yet known when Mr Dutton contracted the virus.

"This morning, I woke up with a temperature and sore throat," said Mr Dutton, who was a key architect of Australia's controversial immigration laws. "It is the policy of the Queensland Department of Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice."

Mr Dutton said he feels fine but his diagnosis will raise concerns about whether other members of the Cabinet and Prime Minister Scott Morrison may have been infected.

The Prime Minister's Office confirmed yesterday that Mr Dutton attended a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, but other participants would not be quarantined. "Only people who had close contact with the minister in the preceding 24 hours before he became symptomatic need to self-isolate," a spokesman said.

In contrast, New Zealand Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin - who also met Mr Dutton in Washington - has self-isolated and will get tested for the virus today, local media reported.

Mr Morrison, however, will no longer attend a rugby match he had been planning to watch tonight.

Mr Dutton is among 184 people in Australia who have been confirmed as having Covid-19.

He is just the latest in a string of political figures around the world to suffer a scare.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte underwent testing on Thursday due to possible exposure.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has also been tested for the virus after a top aide was diagnosed with the disease following a trip to the US during which both met Mr Trump.

But the White House has insisted Mr Trump does not need testing, saying only those "with prolonged close exposure to confirmed positive cases should self-quarantine".

Romania's Prime Minister Ludovic Orban yesterday said he and his Cabinet would be under quarantine after contact with a senator who tested positive.

It came hours after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was self-isolating following his wife's positive test on Thursday.

British junior health minister Nadine Dorries confirmed on Tuesday that she had the virus, while several members of Iran's senior leadership have also been infected.

REUTERS, NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2020, with the headline 'Aussie minister tests positive for Covid-19'. Print Edition | Subscribe