Hanks for nothing: A-list couple to spend two-weeks in quarantine
HOLLYWOOD megastar Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson will spend the next two weeks quarantined inside a Gold Coast hospital after becoming the most high-profile cases in Australia's coronavirus pandemic.
In news that spread across the world yesterday, Hanks and Wilson, both 63, confirmed they had both tested positive for the virus in a week they had travelled between Brisbane, Sydney and the Gold Coast, shutting down production on Baz Luhrmann's Elvis Presley biopic, in which Hanks stars.
The A-list couple, who are now quarantined at the Gold Coast University Hospital, were two of seven new cases of the coronavirus confirmed in Queensland yesterday, taking the number of people who have had the virus in the state to 27.
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles and his director-general John Wakefield said they believed all seven new cases, including Hanks and Wilson, contracted COVID-19 overseas and travelled to Queensland already infected.
Hanks, a two-time Academy Award winner, was first spotted on the Gold Coast on February 29.
The couple appeared at Brisbane's Emporium Hotel, where Wilson performed, on March 5, before travelling to Sydney and returning to the Gold Coast this week.
Mr Miles said all patients would be treated the same and described the infectious diseases ward on the Gold Coast as one of the best in the world.
Dr Wakefield told a news conference yesterday: "Whether you're from Hollywood or Helensvale you will get great care in our health system."
The news spread after Hanks posted a statement to Instagram saying the couple had felt "a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches" while "Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too."
"To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive," he continued. "The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks' will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We'll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves!"
The pair's son, Chet Hanks, took to social media yesterday to provide an update.
"I just got off the phone with them. They both are fine, they're not even that sick," he said. "They're not worried about it, they're not tripping, but they're going through the necessary health precautions, obviously. But I don't think it's anything to be worried about. I appreciate everyone's concern and well wishes but I think it's going to be all right."
Mr Miles wouldn't disclose which flight Hanks and Wilson took from Sydney to the Gold Coast, saying they were talking to airlines to obtain flight manifests and passenger lists and would "release flight details once we have them".
Fans who attended Wilson's concert at Emporium South Bank would also be contacted by the Queensland Government.
Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann sent a letter early yesterday to the Elvis film cast and crew working at Village Roadshow Studios outlining that due to a confirmed coronavirus case involving a crew member the production had been "cancelled and will not resume until further notice".
The big-budget film, in which Hanks will star as Elvis' manager Colonel Tom Parker, was in pre-production with cameras due to roll later this month - having already been delayed nearly two weeks due to recent flooding.
"Be assured we will keep you updated as that information develops," Luhrmann wrote in his alert letter, seen by The Courier-Mail.
"We request all cast and crew stay at home today and not come to work."
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed she had been in contact with Luhrmann to ensure the couple's last steps were being traced.
"He has said to me that he wants to pass on to everyone that we stand with the people of Queensland in making sure we comply with any restrictions and of course that we want to see a speedy recovery," she said.
There are also concerns the pair could have spread the virus unknowingly during numerous interactions with fans both in New South Wales and Queensland.
Ms Palaszczuk attempted to placate growing concerns about the couple's movements by claiming 15 minutes of extremely close contact was required for them to pass on the virus, and those who took selfies with stars are safe.
Emporium Hotel General Manager Charles Martin reassured guests there had been cleaning and sanitisation of the room in which Wilson performed on March 5, as well as any associated areas she and Hanks visited.
"Following today's announcement, we have taken active steps to brief our staff on this matter, and extra hygiene precautions were already in place since the first international outbreak of coronavirus in January," he said.
After Wilson's Brisbane show, the couple travelled to Sydney, where she performed at the Sydney Opera House over the weekend. They were spotted at Sydney Harbour, going for a walk at Bondi Beach and posing for selfies with fans in a restaurant. It is believed they stayed at Park Hyatt Sydney during their visit.
A woman who sat in front of Hanks at Wilson's show in Sydney went to get tested yesterday, as did a skipper on board a private boat they took out on a tour of the Sydney Harbour. The boat, Spectre, was closed for business yesterday pending the result.