Donald Trump has announced travel bans on the UK and Ireland as he revealed he had undergone testing for coronavirus.
The US president said it would take up to two days to know the results of the test which he took on Friday night (local time) in response to querying from journalists.
It comes as questions are raised over medical advice against testing people who had been in contact with Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton, including the prime minister and cabinet ministers.
Mr Dutton says he developed symptoms on Friday, just days after attending a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that included Scott Morrison which Labor’s Chris Bowen said should require ministers to self-isolate for 14 days.
But Australia’s chief health officer Professor Brendan Murphy said it had always been public advice that people only be tested after being in contact with someone infected with coronavirus within 24 hours of them developing symptoms despite WHO advice about a 48-hour contagion period.
I am in self isolation because I interviewed Rita Wilson for a total of maybe 15 mins. Yet the PM reckons he is ok after Dutton gets a positive diagnosis. To reduce infection we must all do the right thing. Even the PM.
— David Campbell (@DavidCampbell73) March 14, 2020
Mr Trump said he underwent a coronavirus test because he had been asked about it during a press conference, not for any particular concern over contact with an infected person.
He told journalists he had also had his temperature taken before entering the press conference room where he was questioned about why he was still shaking hands with people.
Mr Trump said shaking hands was a hard habit to break but it was important not to continue the social practice.
“People come up to me, they shake hands, they put their hand out, it’s sort of a natural reflex and we’re all getting out of it, all of us have that problem,” he said.
“Somebody comes up to you, they put their hand out, you probably tend to shake it, and we’re all getting out of that.
“Shaking hands is not a great thing to be doing right now I agree. People are thinking about it more and more. We have to think about it, it’s important.”
America’s ban on UK and Ireland travel follows an earlier decision to close its borders to Europe while nations such as New Zealand ramped up border control with strict self-isolation requirements.
Vice President Mike Pence said the decision followed “a unanimous recommendation” from “all of our health experts”.
The ban will apply to anyone who was physically present in Britain and Ireland in the 14 days prior to their attempted entry to the US.
Mr Pence specified that US citizens “can come home” and will be “funnelled through specific airports and processed”.
Around the world a range of containment policies have been enacted including bans the closure of non-essential businesses in France, night curfews in the Philippines capital Manila, a lockdown in Spain and fresh emergency measures in Italy such as workplace safety policies.
Australia’s ban on mass-gatherings which takes effect on Monday has thrown a number of events and fixtures under a cloud, including the rugby league season.
The federal government is rolling out a nationwide advertising camping urging Australians to play their part to help to stem the spread, as the infection toll reached 238.
A letter from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy will run in newspapers across the country on Sunday, along with the latest information on COVID-19.
It urges people to wash their hands frequently, cover coughs and sneezes, and dispose of tissues, and avoid contact with others if they’re feeling unwell.
“Australia has one of the best health systems in the world with some of the most dedicated and experienced health professionals,” the letter reads.
“Containing the spread of an infection like COVID-19 comes down to every Australian playing their part by looking after their own hygiene, looking out for each other, and staying informed.”
People are also being urged only to be tested for the illness if they are experiencing flu or cold-like symptoms and have recently returned from overseas, or have been in contact with a confirmed case.
Advertisements with these messages will also run on television, radio, online and at more than 2200 outdoor sites from this weekend.