Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, has tested positive for covid-19 after returning from the U.S., according to a new statement published online. Dutton attended a high-level security meeting in the U.S. on Thursday, March 5, and there are photos of Dutton from that day with U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, among other security officials from the UK, Canada, and New Zealand.
“This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat,” Dutton said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I immediately contacted the Queensland Department of Health and was subsequently tested for COVID-19. I was advised by Queensland Health this afternoon that the test had returned positive.”
Queensland is also the state where actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson are currently in the hospital after both tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Dutton was meeting in the U.S. with Five Eyes partners and it’s not immediately clear how many top officials around the world he may have come in contact with last week. Five Eyes is the global intelligence-sharing agreement between the national security agencies of the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The press conference that Dutton attended on March 5 in Washington D.C., included Chad Wolf, Britain’s Minister of State for Security James Brokenshire, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair, as well as New Zealand’s Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister for Children Tracey Martin.
Bill Barr shook hands with First Lady Melania Trump at the National Opioid Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2020, just a day after meeting with Dutton. It’s unknown whether the First Lady has been tested for covid-19, but both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence insist they haven’t been tested yet.
Dutton has been admitted to the hospital and top Australian politicians who have spent time with Dutton this week are trying to figure out whether they’ve been exposed. Australia currently has at least 191 known cases of covid-19 and 3 deaths.
New Zealand’s Tracey Martin told local media today that she doesn’t remember shaking hands with Dutton, but that she sat next to him during their 90-minute meeting in the U.S. last week. There are also photos online of Britain’s James Brokenshire shaking the hands of top government officials around the world like Libyan Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha just yesterday.
Whether or not Dutton contracted covid-19 in the U.S., there does appear to be circumstantial evidence that America is spreading coronavirus around the globe. Taiwan’s latest case, announced today, is an American man who is believed to have contracted the virus from American friends visiting Taiwan, according to Taiwan News. And Kenya announced its first case of covid 19 today, another person who had recently been to the U.S.
President Trump announced a travel ban on visitors from most European countries on Wednesday night, but his speech was riddled with lies and errors. No country has yet banned Americans.
The news of Peter Dutton’s diagnosis came shortly after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave a press conference announcing a suggested ban on large gatherings over 500 people that won’t be enforced until Monday. Morrison announced that he’d be attending an Australian-rules football game over the weekend, something that seems ill-advised if one of his top officials just tested positive for the disease.
Kellyanne Conway, a top advisor to President Trump, also appears in the photos.
Dutton seems to have gotten pretty close to Ivanka Trump in the photo.
Update, 11:18 am ET: A Justice Department spokesperson told MSN that Barr will be working from home today.
“The AG is feeling great and not showing any symptoms,” a DOJ spokeswoman told MSN. “He is staying home today and has consulted with CDC. CDC is not recommending he be tested at this point.”