How the PM’s refusal to isolate puts everyone at risk.

14 Mar

Yesterday, Friday March 13th, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton announced that he’d tested positive for the COVID-19 virus earlier in the day, and was in hospital in Brisbane. Dutton returned from a visit to the US on Sunday, March 8, and attended a cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other ministers on Tuesday.

Dutton stated that he woke up on Friday morning with a sore throat and fever, immediately sought testing, immediately received the result, and was immediately hospitalised.

On Thursday,March 12, Senator Derryn Hinch revealed he’d heard a federal minster had tested positive for the virus, and had cancelled all meetings. Hinch is not clairvoyant, one assumes, and the minister in question was either Peter Dutton, or another infected minister who is yet to be named. Mr Dutton claims to have woken up symptomatic on Friday, yet as nobody else has emerged as a contender, it’s reasonable to assume that Hinch’s information on Thursday  was in fact about the Home Affairs Minister’s situation.

This seems to suggest that Mr Dutton is misleading the public about the date his symptoms manifested, given that we can safely assume Mr Hinch is not a prophet. There is little else in this story that we can safely assume to be true.

The deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, advised the Prime Minister that he and other cabinet members present at that meeting do not need to self-isolate or seek testing for the virus, as Dutton was infectious for only 24 hours prior to displaying symptoms.

This is an astounding claim. The World Health Organisation advises that as far as we currently know, people carrying the virus are infectious for between 24 and 48 hours prior to symptoms manifesting.

 …we are learning that there are people who can shed COVID-19 virus 24-48 hours prior to symptom onset…

Noteworthy here is a) we are learning and b) shedding can occur 24 -48 hours prior to symptom onset.

The deputy Chief Medical Officer is apparently advising the government in contradiction of the findings of the World Health Organisation, and one has to ask oneself, why?

Morrison has since announced that he and his cabinet will not self-isolate, and will not seek testing. He has based this decision on the deputy CMO’s advice. We are now faced with the bizarre possibility that our most senior government members, according to WHO advice, have been exposed to the virus while interacting with a confirmed case, in a closed room, for several hours, and by their refusal to self-isolate, are prime suspects in its possible transmission.

Apparently the government and the deputy CMO cannot be trusted to properly inform the public on the matter of COVID-19. Quite where the deputy CMO acquired his definitive knowledge on the transmission period for the virus is unclear: nowhere have I been able to find support for his assertion, indeed, the overwhelming impression, trawling through international and domestic reports, is that to date, the period when a carrier is infectious is unclear and still speculative. And yet, the Morrison government has chosen to disregard this global reality, and work on the assumption that they are safe from the possibility of infection. As they are not self-isolating, they are risking transmitting the infection to everyone they come in contact with, including their own families.

If you are now feeling as if you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, you are not alone. Far from a government that is strong, proactive and reassuring during a pandemic, we are faced with the possibility of a government that is possibly actively expanding transmission, with the most cavalier disregard for the consequences of its actions. In the general population, ordinary citizens are self-isolating for much less, and being encouraged to do so.

Mr Dutton did not only attend the cabinet meeting. He’s flown on planes, he’s been at the Sunshine Coast, and has interacted with his staff and family. Anybody who has had close contact with him has the absolute right to know when he became symptomatic.

And the deputy Chief Medical Officer needs to publicly address the contradiction between his assertions and the claims of the WHO, as do the health departments that are advising a 24 hour infectious window in apparent disregard of international guidelines.

The reality is we do not know with certainty, which is why a fourteen day isolation period was decided upon in the first place.

Misinformation puts everyone at risk. Demanding full, honest and reliable information on the virus is not “panicking” or “hysteria.” It’s common sense, and it is every single person’s right to know what we are facing. The government needs to do its job, and provide this information immediately, or step away entirely from this situation and allow independent, non-politicised experts to inform us.


Peter Dutton has just admitted in a radio interview that he became symptomatic on Wednesday, not Friday as he stated in his press release. This means anyone in contact with him on Tuesday must self-isolate.


The reason for this latest falsehood is not clear to this writer.


17 Responses to “How the PM’s refusal to isolate puts everyone at risk.”

  1. Anonymous March 14, 2020 at 3:27 pm #

    this is the ‘new norm’


  2. Monica O’Brien March 14, 2020 at 4:14 pm #

    Also, Morrison’s cavalier statement that he was going to attend a football game was reprehensible. His “I don’t panic” approach to the catastrophic bushfires applies to the Coronavirus. Perhaps in his fundamentalist evangelical Christian world God will decide who contracts the virus – and, good Christian that he is, it won’t be him. Seriously, how irresponsible was he to take that attitude? If he doesn’t worry about encouraging people to go into crowded situations, let him go into hospitals and nurse the Coronavirus patients

    Liked by 1 person

  3. S.C. Karakaltsas March 14, 2020 at 4:18 pm #

    You’re right. It sends a very different message to everyone else and will probably backfire. I watch and wait what happens to Scott Morrison and co with interest.


  4. lindacairnes2 March 14, 2020 at 6:25 pm #

    I watched the CMO in interview this morning trying to explain the” new very special only for Smoko and his inner sanctum peeps 24 hour rule gets you off self containment” and I just lost faith on the spot. Your post just confirmed the gut feeling we were being fed a load of blarney

    Liked by 1 person

  5. SueW March 14, 2020 at 7:09 pm #

    Hasn’t Trump done a similar thing. Shared a microphone and stood very close to someone with the virus, albeit unaware at the time. When he found out, I understand he initially refused to be tested and self-isolate. Haven’t read anything else today but I’m assuming he’s still too stubborn to self-isolate. What is wrong with these people?


  6. cathysarles March 14, 2020 at 9:27 pm #

    Can you tell me which radio interview you heard in which he said his symptoms started Wednesday? Cheers


    • Dr Jennifer Wilson March 15, 2020 at 3:32 pm #

      I can’t, because I haven’t heard it, only reporting what others have said. I believe it was on 2gb.


      • Cathy March 15, 2020 at 10:03 pm #

        I have listened to 2 radio interviews from the 14 March and in both he says first symptoms Friday morning (MMM and 2GB)
        On the longer MMM interview he goes into detail how he was not infective before the 11th (48 hours)
        This information is apparently incorrect
        Both interviews were totally scripted re dates and identical words used as per current politicians


        • Dr Jennifer Wilson March 16, 2020 at 7:21 am #

          That’s interesting, others are reporting otherwise. Hinch knew about it on Thursday, so…


          • Cathy March 16, 2020 at 11:36 am #

            Hinch heard a rumour
            Josh Frydenberg took a test Thursday (negative)


  7. Warwick Davis March 15, 2020 at 1:31 am #

    Hi Jennifer, I tried to send you an email using the address within this article. It was rejected. This is to test this auto address. I will send the original item again if this wotks. Cheers Warwick


    • Dr Jennifer Wilson March 15, 2020 at 3:32 pm #

      Hi Warwick, not sure what’s happening with the email, I think I need to set up a new one. Will get back to you. Cheers, Jennifer


  8. Anonymous March 15, 2020 at 8:45 pm #

    tonight on the ABC tele Scott Morrison looks so happy that he can point at a graph. Clearly he feels happier and more in control due to his ability to explain year 6 maths


    • Anonymous March 17, 2020 at 7:12 pm #

      I’ve just seen on ABC news on the tele (so it must be true) that doctors have signed and sent a letter to the government asking for more stringent lockdown methods to prevent Australia experiencing a similar situation to Italy. the government’s reply was that ‘it is not yet necessary’. When will politicians pay attention to scientists. Morrison ignored scientific warnings about global warming and ignored the RFS’s recommendations and NOW is ignoring doctors recommendations on how to deal with Coronavirus. What qualifications does Scott Morrison actually have? A BSc? A degree in Environmental Science? In fact what is the man’s IQ?


      • Anonymous March 17, 2020 at 7:40 pm #

        AND I haven’t got my $750 yet!


        • Anonymous March 17, 2020 at 8:55 pm #

          Hey Scott how can the people of Cobargo, and other fire damaged areas, self-isolate when we’re living in tents?

          Liked by 1 person


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