March 13, 2020 / 7:06 AM / 17 days ago

Australian home minister Peter Dutton tests positive for coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Australian Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton inspects the St.Sebastian's church where two Australian citizens died in the Easter Sunday bombing, during his visit in Negombo, Sri Lanka June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

(Reuters) - One of Australia’s highest-profile ministers, Peter Dutton, who is in charge of home affairs, said he had tested positive for coronavirus on Friday and was admitted to hospital in the northeastern state of Queensland.

Australia has recorded 156 infections and three deaths from the flu-like disease, but authorities expect a rapid increase in coming weeks, with the arrival of the southern hemisphere winter.

Dutton, a former health minister, attended a meeting in Sydney on Tuesday at which he met Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other cabinet members for a few hours, a spokeswoman said.

“This morning, I woke up with a temperature and sore throat,” Dutton said in a statement issued by his office, adding that Queensland health authorities told him on Friday afternoon that his test had proved positive.

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

Morrison has advised against gatherings of more than 500 people, but said he would still go to a weekend rugby game, as health officials warned that millions of Australians could get infected within months.

A media representative for Morrison did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook and Paulina Duran; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Clarence Fernandez

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