Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce will be home for Christmas after all, after getting over a bout of COVID.
Mr Joyce has at last been cleared to return to Australia after testing positive for the virus in the US earlier in December.
“I will be home for Christmas,” he told the Seven Network’s Sunrise on Monday as he left 10 days of self-isolation in a Washington DC hotel.
Mr Joyce thinks he caught the Omicron variant of COVID in London, where he spent days in high-level meetings before heading to the US. He had more meetings planned in Washington, including with high-profile Republican senator Ted Cruz, but they were cancelled after his positive test.
“To sum up the trip, it could have been better,” he said.
“Obviously arriving here and being locked up in a hotel is not the ideal venue for trying to meet people.”
When his diagnosis emerged and he began his isolation, Mr Joyce said he “probably won’t be home for Christmas”. He encouraged the rest of the Australian delegation to head home without him.
“I’m really happy all my staff are negative, so they can do what they like. If they wish to go home then they are most welcome to,” he said.
On Saturday, he told The Australian that he was frustrated while waiting for the negative test he needed to leave isolation.
“All I want to do is get the hell out of here and go home,” he said.
He said he had filled his days watching TV, reading English history – and pacing his hotel room.
“I thought I’ve got to do something positive, I’ve turned into a fat s–t so I’ve been exercising, eating less and drinking very little,” he said.
“I’m trying to make sure I do over 10,000 steps a day. I’ve done 63 kilometres around this unit in the past four days.”
After revealing on Monday he was finally cleared of the virus, Mr Joyce urged any unvaccinated Australian to get their COVID shots, and anyone who was eligible to get a booster.
“I got Omicron despite being double vaccinated, but really it was pretty mild,” he said.
“It was a couple of days and then the rest of the time I had the virus, they could find the virus on me, but I didn’t feel sick and that’s one of the frustrations.”