Australia’s deputy leader tests positive for virus in the US

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said Thursday he’d tested positive for the coronavirus while traveling in Washington D.C.

Joyce, who is fully vaccinated, said in a Facebook post that he’d been experiencing mild symptoms and decided to get tested. He said he would remain in isolation while seeking further advice.

He said the remaining members of his traveling delegation had tested negative.

Two British Cabinet ministers — Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps — are self-isolating while awaiting the results of PCR tests after meeting earlier this week with Joyce.

It wasn’t immediately clear what variant of the virus Joyce had contracted. Before arriving in the U.S., he’d traveled to London and met with top officials there as part of a 10-day trip to discuss his government’s plans for regulating social media.

Joyce told ABC Radio New England he was “very frustrated I’m going to be locked up in a room by myself for 10 days, but that’s part of the process.”

He joked that being alone in the room worried him more than his infection.

He told the radio station that part of his job involved traveling and meeting with counterparts.

“I really wanted to follow up on some of this online stuff, try to get better online protection laws and see where the United States are,” he said. “But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.”

Australia has been a prominent voice in calling for international regulation of the internet.

It passed laws this year that oblige Google and Facebook to pay for journalism. Australia also defied the tech companies by creating a law that could imprison social media executives if their platforms stream violent images.

Australia has also announced plans to crack down on online advertisers targeting children by making social media platforms seek parental consent for users younger than 16 years old or face hefty fines.

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