Dutton positive to Covid-19 after Ivanka Trump meeting


Mr Dutton, 48, woke up this morning “with a temperature and sore throat” and got tested.

“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,” he said in a statement.

“It is the policy of Queensland Health that anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice.”

“I feel fine and will provide an update in due course.”

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had travelled to the United States recently. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Mr Dutton had just returned from a trip to the United States.

He had held meetings with his Five Eyes intelligence counterparts in Washington on protecting kids online from exploitation and abuse.

It is presumed that Mr Dutton picked up the virus during the US trip, in which he met Ivanka Trump and many senior members of the Trump White House.

His result has prompted concern that other members of the government and parliament might also have the virus.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said Mr Dutton has been isolated according to the policies of Queensland Health.

“Queensland Health will undertake the appropriate contact tracing,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said Mr Dutton attended Tuesday’s meeting of the Federal Cabinet in person and Thursday’s meeting of the National Security Committee via video link.

“In advice provided to the Prime Minister this evening, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer has reiterated that only people who had close contact with the Minister in the preceding 24 hours before he became symptomatic need to self-isolate.

“That does not include the Prime Minister or any other members of the Cabinet.”

PM BACKFLIPS ON NRL PLANS AFTER BAN ON MASS EVENTS

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not be going to the opening round of the NRL this weekend.

Just hours after insisting he would be at the “footy” this weekend before a ban on mass events with crowds larger than 500 people comes into effect on Monday, Mr Morrison backed out.

A spokesman said the decision was made after “further consideration and the potential for the Prime Minister’s attendance to be misrepresented”.

“The Prime Minister has chosen not to attend the match this weekend,” the spokesman said.

“The Prime Minister believes this would avoid any unnecessary confusion about his attendance.”

The spokesman said Mr Morrison did not want to create “any unnecessary alarm” as a result of announcing the ban on large events.

“The Prime Minister today said he would be attending the Sharks’ first NRL match because he wanted to make it very clear that the medical advice from the experts about mass gatherings of more than 500 people was not taking immediate effect,” the spokesman said.

“The PM made the point the advice was being introduced after the weekend so the medical experts could finalise their arrangements and that there was no serious immediate health risk to Australians attending such events over the weekend.”

The move comes after Chief Health Officer Professor Brendan Murphy urged the extraordinary action to combat the coronavirus crisis at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Sydney today.

But Mr Morrison said it does not apply to schools or universities.

“It does not mean people getting on public transport or going to airports or things of that nature,” he said.

“These events that we are seeking to advise against and restrict our four non-essential, organised gatherings of persons of 500 or more.

“There will be many issues to work through between now and Monday as we get the precise advice about the implementation of that advice to Australians around the country.”

Health authorities are continuing to work through the best social distancing strategies.

But contrary to this, Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone has advised people not to wait until Monday to cease attending mass events.

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The Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian listens as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the Meeting of the Council of Australian Governments. Picture: AFP

The Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian listens as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the Meeting of the Council of Australian Governments. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

He said “every day we delay in acting on the necessary need to reduce and cancel attendance we will see a significant increase,“ he said.

“My advice to Australian is as follows, clearly if you have any respiratory symptoms you should not be going out into any mass gatherings this weekend or at any stage from now.,” he said.

“Number two I would advise … patients in the community to make a decision and consider whether they should attend and rather than waiting for Monday make the necessary steps now,” he said.

Australia’s Department of Defence has created a task force for the military’s response to the coronavirus.

Lieutenant General John Frewen, the deputy director of the Australian Signals Directorate, is leading the task force, a Defence spokesman has confirmed to AAP.

The nation’s leaders have also agreed to form a “national cabinet” – including the Prime Minister, state premiers and chief ministers – to meet weekly and co-ordinate their response to the crisis.

The advice to cancel non-essential mass gatherings is expected to be reviewed daily, but at this stage an end date for the extraordinary measure has not been set.

Empty stands at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, which was cancelled in the wake of coronavirus. The government has been advised to ban mass gatherings over 500 people. Picture: AAP

Empty stands at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix, which was cancelled in the wake of coronavirus. The government has been advised to ban mass gatherings over 500 people. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

It will be considered by the new national cabinet, which will hold its first meeting on Sunday.

Mr Morrison said the government’s plan was designed to slow the spread of the virus, which had been successful so far, putting Australia in a better position than other countries.

“But we’ve always known that the number of cases would rise,” he said.

Mr Morrison said the advice from Monday was part of a stepped response.

But he said he was still intending on going to his NRL team’s game where the Cronulla Sharks are set to play the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday afternoon.

“We are not of great concern right now in terms of where those gatherings might be today, but in the weeks ahead, this will change,” he said.

“The fact that I would still be going on Saturday speaks not just to my passion for my beloved Sharks, it might be the last game I get to go to for a long time. That’s fine.”

It follows the decision to cancel the Grand Prix in Melbourne after Victoria’s first recorded case of community transmission of the virus.

Team members pack up in the garage of Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo at Albert Park – where the 2020 Australian Grand Prix was to be held. Picture: AAP

Team members pack up in the garage of Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo at Albert Park – where the 2020 Australian Grand Prix was to be held. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

EVENTS CANCELLED, AUDIENCES BANNED

The AFL is actively investigating pushing its season into mid-October as the league sensationally banned all fans from its Round 1 fixtures.

Crowds will be banned from Australia’s one-day cricket series against New Zealand with the series to be played behind closed doors because of coronavirus.

Cricket Australia took the drastic step on Friday, just hours before the series opener at the SCG.

Another match is due for the SCG on Sunday, before another game in front of an empty stadium at Blundstone Arena in Hobart next Friday.

A women’s tour of South Africa for next week has also been suspended, making it the first major international cricket series affected since the outbreak of the virus.

Australian Mens ODI player Aaron Finch (centre) during a training session at the SCG. Picture: AAP

Australian Mens ODI player Aaron Finch (centre) during a training session at the SCG. Picture: AAPSource:AAP

The CMC Rocks QLD team have called off the annual festival in Willowbank, QLD next week.

“As a result of the Australian Government’s announcement this afternoon, holding the festival is now infeasible and as such, the March festival cannot proceed as planned,” festival organisers posted.

“Ticketholders are advised to hold onto their tickets; we’re working to reschedule to October. Anyone who is unable to attend the new dates will be entitled to a full refund.”

Meanwhile, the Wine Machine festival will go ahead in the Hunter Valley this weekend, according to a statement from organisers this evening.

But the remainder dates have now been shifted to later in the year with the Swan Valley show on October 17, Canberra on October 24 and Yarra Valley on October 31.

The tickets to these events will be honoured for the rescheduled October dates.

All ticket holders have been notified of the postponement by email with further details and instructions.

And Scottish music legend Midge Ure has posted his assurance his remaining Australian shows will go ahead but advised fans to keep on eye on his social media accounts for last minute changes.

Q&A will go ahead without a live audience.

Q&A will go ahead without a live audience.Source:Supplied

ABC boss David Anderson has suspended live audiences for any broadcast and for all locations, from Monday, a staff memo confirms.

That includes flagship news affairs panel program Q&A that the Herald Sun revealed was considering the move ahead of Monday’s school special.

Producers of next Monday’s episode about the increasing threat of coronavirus will have to work out how to get audience questions to the panellists without them physically being present.

Tours of ABC facilities, including school tours and public tours of ABC sites, including Ultimo, have also been suspended until further notice, amid the rolling changes forced by coronavirus fears.

Non-essential visitors and meetings at ABC facilities have been postponed until further notice, while all non-essential domestic travel will be cancelled. This follows management’s earlier directive to cancel any overseas travel.

No cases of Covid-19 have been identified within the ABC.

GRAND PRIX CANCELLED

The Australian Grand Prix has been cancelled due to the coronavirus, officials have confirmed.

“At 9am today the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) was advised by Formula One of their intention to cancel all Formula 1 activity at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix,” an AGPC statement said.

“In light of this decision and updated advice this morning from the Chief Health Officer of the Victorian Government’s Department of Human and Health Services, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation confirms the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix is cancelled immediately.”

AGPC and F1 officials will hold a press conference on the announcement at 1130 AEDT but support categories at Albert Park also look set to be called off.

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, arrives at the track for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. Picture: AP

Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren, arrives at the track for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne. Picture: APSource:AP

The F1 season opener was under a cloud after McLaren pulled out of the Grand Prix when a team member tested positive to the virus on Thursday.

Eight team members across numerous F1 outfits had been assessed and tested while in Melbourne.

A ninth person – who is not a member of an F1 team – is also being tested.

“Last night a member of the McLaren Racing team tested positive for the Covid-19 virus,” the AGPC said.

“A further seven individuals returned negative results, confirming that they do not have the Covid-19 virus.

“Additionally, a ninth individual has been assessed and tested for the Covid-19 virus, with the results of this test pending.

“This individual is not associated with any Formula 1 team, the FIA or associated suppliers.

“Our first priority is the safety of everyone including attendees, our personnel, all event partners and members of the local community.”

AGPC officials said further information regarding ticket refunds would be “communicated in due course”.

DISNEY, BROADWAY SHUT AS TRUMP URGES CALM

The lights went out on Broadway, Disneyland shut its doors, every major sports league was suspended and entire states closed their school systems as the full threat of the coronavirus hit home across the United States on Friday.

The impact was felt at the very top, with US President Donald Trump revealed to have been in close contact with a confirmed Covid-19 sufferer and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau placing himself into isolation after his wife tested positive.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie has coronavirus. Picture: AFP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie has coronavirus. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Mr Trump, who has not yet been tested for the virus, said he understood that Americans were worried as Wall St sunk to its lowest point since the 1987 crash.

“It will end,” said Mr Trump of the crisis. “People have to remain calm.”

And of the millions of people changing their plans, he said: “I think it’s fine if they want to do it. I don’t think it’s an over-reaction. But I wouldn’t be generally inclined to do it. I really wouldn’t be.”

The White House has been accused of fumbling the rollout of tests, with current US testing at among the worst rates in the developed world.

The Centre for Diseases Control said it had analysed about 11,700 tests, many of them repeated on the same patients, compared to 20,000 being done each day in South Korea.

The top US infectious disease admitted the testing hadn’t met expectations and said conditions would soon improve.

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now,” said Dr Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

“That is a failing. It is a failing, let’s admit it.”

Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the background at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Disneyland says it's closing its California parks starting Saturday over coronavirus concerns. Picture: AP

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in the background at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. Disneyland says it’s closing its California parks starting Saturday over coronavirus concerns. Picture: APSource:AP

And both Democratic presidential candidates slammed the federal response, with Bernie Sanders indicating the death toll could be higher than that of US servicemen in WWII.

Frontrunner Joe Biden said: “This administration has left us woefully unprepared for the exact crisis we now face.”

Friday was by far the day that hit Americans hardest in the unfolding crisis, as the warnings about how every aspect of their lives could change became a reality.

Thousands of students won’t be at school for at least three weeks in broad swathes of the nation ranging from Ohio and San Francisco to Connecticut.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency but said he was unlikely to close the city’s schools because many low income families relied on them to feed their children.

And a ban on gatherings of over 500 people in the state of New York shut down the famed theatre district of Broadway

“You don’t want to shut down society, because that’s massively disruptive — to the economy, to life, etc, but your main concern here is the public health crisis, and it’s balancing the two,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo of the shutdown, which also closed the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Minskoff Theatre is shuttered in New York, near Times Square after Broadway theatres closed following New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's banning of gatherings of more than 500 people. Picture: AP

The Minskoff Theatre is shuttered in New York, near Times Square after Broadway theatres closed following New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s banning of gatherings of more than 500 people. Picture: APSource:AP

Disneyland announced it would shut its parks in Florida and California, while the NBA, NHL, Major League Baseball suspended competition, putting billions of dollars of revenue and thousands of jobs at risk.

The NCAA March Madness college basketball competition, second only on the sport calendar to the Super Bowl, was cancelled.

“This is bigger than a sport or championship,” said Kansas University coach Bill Self.

As for the contact with Mr Trump, even though he was photographed with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s communications director, Fábio Wajngarten, who has since tested positive, the White House tried to downplay the risk.

“Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

CORONAVIRUS CLAIMS MORE THAN 1000 LIVES IN ITALY

Italy’s coronavirus death toll has surged past 1000 despite the country being in severe lockdown for days now.

The country lost another 189 people in the past 24 hours, causing Italy’s death toll to jump 23 per cent to 1016, the Civil Protection Agency confirmed Friday.

Italy’s 60 million people have been in lockdown since March 9 with the country closing all of its shops – expect for pharmacies grocery stores.

Despite that, the country still saw a huge jump in its confirmed cases on Friday, with 15,113 infections, a rise of 2,651 in 24 hours. It was also the biggest daily rise since Italy was first hit by the virus on February 21.

Europe continues to be brought to its knees by the virus with countries across the continent cancelling gatherings and sporting matches and closing schools, universities and childcare centres.

A man wearing a mask walks in Codogno, Italy. The northern Italian town recorded Italy’s first coronavirus infection. Picture: AP

A man wearing a mask walks in Codogno, Italy. The northern Italian town recorded Italy’s first coronavirus infection. Picture: APSource:AP

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared it “the worst public health crisis in a generation”.

“It is going to spread further and I must level with you, I must level with the British public, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time,” he told reporters, early Friday (AEDT).

The UK government asked anyone with a mild cough or temperature to stay at home for a week as the country’s confirmed cases surged to 590 people with the virus killing 10 people.

But the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance instead warned the actual number of people infected could be as high as 10,000 as testing struggles to keep up with the spread.

“Currently we are on a trajectory that looks as though it is about four weeks or so behind Italy and some other countries in Europe,” he said.

“There are currently 590 cases that have been identified in the UK and there are more than 20 patients on intensive care units.

“If you calculate what that really means, it’s much more likely that we’ve got somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 people infected at the moment.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned many people will lose loved ones too early. Picture: AFP

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned many people will lose loved ones too early. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

France’s Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron announced the drastic measure of closing all schools and universities from Monday following the country’s 2284 cases and 48 deaths.

Further north, Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja are in self-quarantine for two weeks after visiting Jordan on a state visit.

Norwegian Air temporarily laid off half its staff until the end of May after the budget airline was forced to cancel 4000 flights.

The Scandinavian country was put in lockdown on Thursday by Prime Minister Erna Solberg as Norwegian authorities grappled with its huge number of cases.

Australia’s Smart Traveller website has not updated its warning for Norway yet, despite the country’s PM warning anyone arriving there would be quarantined for two weeks.

France's President Emmanuel Macron announcing drastic new measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. Picture: AFP

France’s President Emmanuel Macron announcing drastic new measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

The spread of the virus in Norway has been one of the fastest in Europe, with more than 700 confirmed cases and no deaths.

The high number has been attributed to the country’s efficiency in testing its population of 5.3 million people, meaning there is actual data on how many have it.

In Spain, the country’s King Felipe VI and his wife Queen Letizia were also tested for coronavirus after the government’s equality minister Irene Montero contracted the virus.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Spain jumped to 3004 early Friday (AEDT), an increase of 800 people in 24 hours. The virus has also killed 86 people.

More than 131,000 people have contracted the virus across 116 countries and territories with China still being the worst hit.

People wear protective face masks in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Picture: AFP

People wear protective face masks in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

VIRGIN FLIGHTS CUT, WORKER HAS VIRUS

Virgin Australia will slash capacity on domestic and international routes, with the airline also confirming one of its cabin crew has coronavirus.

CEO Paul Scurrah said the woman fell ill after returning from overseas.

She’s now in isolation and passengers who came into contact with her are being traced but Mr Scurrah wouldn’t reveal which flight or flights are of concern.

He refused to answer when asked if the worker had been on a Gold Coast to Sydney flight.

“We are not confirming the flight this cabin crew was on,” he said, but added everyone who may be at risk was being tracked down.

The airline has also revealed it will cut capacity on some routes as travel dries up amid the outbreak.

“The group is taking action to reduce capacity in the international markets it operates in and reduce domestic capacity in line with weakened demand,” the airline said in a statement on Friday.

Virgin Australia Airlines has a crew member with the virus. Picture: AP

Virgin Australia Airlines has a crew member with the virus. Picture: APSource:AAP

Across the group, domestic capacity will be cut by five per cent in the second half of the financial year ending June.

It will also reducing international capacity by eight per cent. Daily services between Brisbane and Tokyo’s Haneda will be cut to three times per week from 29 March until 3 May.

Daily services from Sydney to Los Angeles will drop to five times per week from early May to early June.

Trans-Tasman services will also be cut further.

Fridays international changes follow the group’s recent withdrawal from Hong Kong services.

AUSSIES IN ASPEN VIRUS OUTBREAK

Meantime, nine Australians who were travelling in Aspen tested positive for the coronavirus.

The tourists are all aged in their 50s, 60s and 70s and have been placed in isolation in their hotels.

They were travelling with a 21-year-old Australian woman who tested positive for the coronavirus.

They are in isolation in their hotels in the ski town after exhibiting symptoms.

Pitkin County public health confirmed test results for one more person who was also in the group of Australians is pending.

The tests are considered presumptive positives because they haven’t been confirmed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“These visitors are currently in quarantine,” said Karen Koenemann, Pitkin County public health director.

Healthcare workers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment prepare to start testing people for COVID-19 at the state's first drive-up testing centre. Picture: Getty Images

Healthcare workers from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment prepare to start testing people for COVID-19 at the state’s first drive-up testing centre. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:AFP

“(State public health department) staff, in conjunction with Pitkin County Public Health, are monitoring people who may have been exposed. … We hope that these folks recover quickly and there is no additional spread in Pitkin County.”

“They have been extremely cooperative and gracious under difficult circumstances,” Aspen Snowmass Communications Vice President Jeff Hanle said.

“We hope that they all have a quick and complete recovery.”

Ms Koenemann said a further three Australians refused to take a coronavirus test.

“They did not give reasons why they didn’t want to be tested,” Koenemann told the Denver Post.

The Little Nell, one of Aspen’s most exclusive hotels, confirmed it had two guests in isolation with coronavirus online.

“The couple is sharing a guest room and have been self-isolating since Sunday, March 8,” the statement said.





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