Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his actress wife, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for the new coronavirus while in Australia for a movie shoot.
The couple sought medical help after experiencing body aches and fatigue, among other symptoms, the “Forrest Gump” star, 63, tweeted.
“We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated as long as public health requires,” Hanks said in his Twitter post. “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated.”
In Australia to shoot a movie about Elvis Presley, Hanks was set to play the role of the singer’s eccentric manager, who groomed Presley to stardom in the 1950s. Directed by Australian director Baz Luhrmann, filming was due to begin on Monday.
Hanks isn’t the first well-known person to contract the virus, which has infected more than 124,000 people in its spread around the world, but his case thrusts the outbreak into the celebrity realm, raising the stakes for U.S. regulators and President Donald Trump. Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert also received a preliminary diagnosis of the virus, according to ESPN, while the National Basketball Association said late Wednesday it suspended games for the rest of the season. In Europe, the pathogen has infected one of the U.K.’s health ministers and Daniele Rugani, a soccer player with Italian club Juventus.
The virus microbe is known to cause pneumonia-like respiratory complications, and deaths have been higher in patients with pre-existing conditions, including hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In 2013, Hanks revealed on “The David Letterman Show” that he had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes after suffering from high blood sugar since his mid-30s.
So far, more than 4,600 people — mostly in China — have died after contracting the novel coronavirus. People with diabetes appear to have a higher susceptibility to diseases such as Covid-19, the illness caused by the virus, because of the disorder’s impact on the immune and cardiovascular systems. Heart and lung disease can have a similar impact, said David Morens, a senior scientific adviser to the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Like the U.S., where virus infections exceeded 1,200 Wednesday, Australia is grappling with a widening outbreak.
The number of cases in Australia, home to about 25.6 million people, rose to 128 as of Thursday. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has enacted travel restrictions and pledged to fund 100 pop-up clinics as part of the country’s virus fight.
Speaking to reporters in Sydney on Thursday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state’s health experts will closely work with Hanks, Luhrmann and all the cast and crew to help those who were in close proximity to self-isolate.
“They will be getting the best treatment in our hospitals just as we provide to everybody else,” she said. “The thoughts of Queenslanders and all Australians are with Tom and Rita during this time, and once again it clearly shows that coronavirus has no boundaries.”
Warner Bros Entertainment Inc., one of the production companies on the film, confirmed in a statement that a company member from the Elvis feature, currently in pre-production on Australia’s Gold Coast, had tested positive for the virus.
The company said it was working closely with Australian health agencies to identify and contact anyone who may have come in direct contact with Hanks.
The iconic performer has starred in films such as “Splash,” “Bachelor Party” and “Saving Private Ryan.” In 1994, he won an Oscar for best actor for “Philadelphia,” in which he portrayed a dying, HIV-infected gay lawyer fighting discrimination at work, and again in 1995, for the role of a slow-witted but kind-hearted man in “Forrest Gump.” His wife Wilson, also 63, has appeared in many movies including “Sleepless in Seattle” and produced films such as “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”