News National Morrison ducks, weaves and backs out of attending Sharks game
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Morrison ducks, weaves and backs out of attending Sharks game

Prime Minister Scott Morrison won't be supporting his 'beloved' Cronulla Sharks after all. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP
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Scott Morrison has abandoned plans to attend his ‘beloved’ Cronulla Sharks’ first NRL game but has decided not to be tested for the coronavirus, despite close contact with the hospitalised Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

The Prime Minister’s office confirmed on Friday night that chief medical officer Brendan Murphy had advised him he did not need to self isolate despite close contact with Mr Dutton during a four-hour cabinet meeting.

“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,” Mr Morrison’s office said.

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

However, a short time later following questions from media outlets including The New Daily, his office confirmed he would no longer be attending the NRL game.

Mr Morrison had insisted he would attend the match despite the proposed ban at a press conference earlier in the day.

“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.

“This advice will be considered by the new National Cabinet, to be chaired by the Prime Minister, on Sunday.

“The PM did not want to create any unnecessary alarm as a result of these proposed new arrangements.

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

In a statement, a spokesman for Mr Morrison also confirmed the Home Affairs Minister had attended a cabinet meeting in Sydney on Tuesday with over 20 ministers and their staff.

Testing times

“The Minister attended Tuesday’s meeting of the federal cabinet in person and Thursday’s meeting of the national security committee via video link,” the spokesman said.

Asked if Mr Morrison would be tested for the coronavirus as a precaution, a spokesman replied, ‘no’.

Earlier, Mr Dutton confirmed the shock news that he had contracted the coronavirus and is being treated in a Brisbane hospital just days after he sat around a Cabinet table with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Queensland Health will now trace everyone that Mr Dutton has been in contact with that he could have passed on the communicable disease to not knowing that he was infected.

The development sparked fears that the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers, could be forced to self-isolate.

Mr Dutton is the first federal politician to test positive for COVID-19 and recently returned from an overseas work trip.

“This morning I woke up with a temperature and sore throat,” Mr Dutton said in a statement.

“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.

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

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

Peter Dutton with fellow VIPs in Washington before the symptoms appeared. Photo: Twitter

Mr Dutton travelled to the United States in early March to meet security ministers from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance in Washington.

There are also concerns for Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, who also travelled to the US on the same trip.

Ms Payne has not revealed whether or not she has been tested for the killer virus.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, Mr Dutton said he had woken with a temperature and sore throat earlier in the day.

“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.

“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.”

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