Australia Deputy PM tests positive for Covid while on US trip with ‘mild symptoms’

Tanya Plibserek condemns Barnaby Joyce and Malcom Turnbull

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Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister arrived in the United States on Wednesday as a part of a 10-day trip to London and Washington DC. Mr Joyce tested positive after reaching Washington DC from London, however, his travelling companions have so far tested negative.

As per current Covid protocols, he will isolate for 10 days before he returns home to Australia.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Joyce said: “I was just getting a bit tired and then I started to get some pain in my leg, so I got tested … I’d already been tested twice in the last couple of days in the UK.

“This was just as we arrived in the United States, but that’s life.”

Mr Joyce said he didn’t feel “that bad”.

He added: “You really have to sort of quiz yourself as to whether you need to be tested at all because it doesn’t sort of scream at you.”

Taking an update on his health condition, Prime Minister Scott Morrison texted him early on Thursday morning.

Mr Morrison reportedly said: “Barnaby tells me he’s feeling alright, apart from the mild illness.

“He has been vaccinated and what we do know already is that vaccinations do have an impact on the seriousness of the disease. And that’s why it’s so important to get vaccinated.

“It’s another important reminder of why the booster program is also so important, and I encourage everybody to get their boosters.”

Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud said he had been in touch with Mr Joyce on Thursday morning.

Mr Littleproud said: “He’s isolating in the US until it’s safe for him to come home and we wish him all the best for his recovery,”

When asked whether his diagnosis has changed his perspective on Australia needing to learn to “get on” with their lives and live with Covid, Mr Joyce said he was “still of the same view”.

He said: “You can’t just shut the whole place down, the whole world has got to move on.

“We’ve got to work out how we keep people out of hospitals, that’s terribly important. We’ve got to make sure people get vaccinated.

“And we’ve got to work out the best way to try and manage and move on and get our lives back to as normal as we possibly can.

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“I hope that in the future, rather than being isolated, it will be like the flu, where if you get it you go home and you manage it yourself … And people should be getting a flu shot every year, get a Covid vaccine every year.

“I mean, that’s my dream.”

Mr Joyce’s 10-day trip to London and Washington DC comes amid a bid to drum up support to curb social media companies, including Facebook.

He was scheduled to meet Republican senator Ted Cruz, a fierce Facebook critic, and Marsha Blackburn, who has been instrumental in a US senate committee that has targeted the company over online safety for children.

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