One of the most senior members of the Australian government, home affairs minister Peter Dutton, has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Dutton announced his diagnosis on social media on Friday afternoon.
Dutton’s statement said that he has been admitted to hospital, in accordance with the advice of authorities in his home state of Queensland.
The minister woke up on Friday morning with a temperature and sore throat and immediately contacted Queensland’s health department, he said. He was tested for COVID-19 and was advised on Friday afternoon that he had tested positive.
“I feel fine and will provide an update in due course,” Dutton’s statement said.
As the minister overseeing the vast home affairs portfolio, Dutton is one of the most powerful members of the government.
He is one of eight members of the National Security Committee of Cabinet, which has been meeting regularly to guide Australia’s response to the global pandemic. The committee also includes the prime minister, Scott Morrison, deputy prime minister, attorney-general and treasurer.
Australia’s federal cabinet most recently met on Tuesday. On Friday evening, a spokesperson for Morrison’s office said neither Morrison nor any other members of the cabinet needed to self isolate as a result of contact with Dutton.
The deputy chief medical officer had advised that only people who had contact with Dutton in the 24 hours before he showed symptoms of the virus needed to self-isolate, the spokesperson said.
Dutton had recently travelled to the United States for a meeting of senior government members of the Five Eyes, an international intelligence alliance. He met with Ivanka Trump on March 6, according to a tweet from the Australian embassy.
Dutton came under fire in January for the decision to quarantine the first Australians evacuated from Wuhan in China, the original epicentre of the virus, on Christmas Island.
Christmas Island is a remote territory hundreds of kilometres away from Australia’s mainland, best known for its use as a detention centre to warehouse refugees and asylum-seekers.
Soon after he announced his diagnosis, Christmas Island started trending on Twitter as many people made the same joke.
Dutton’s opposition counterpart, Labor Sen. Kristina Keneally, wished Dutton a speedy recovery on Twitter.