Actor Tom Hanks has revealed that he and his wife Rita Wilson have tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the most high-profile people to reveal that they have the illness to date. Their diagnosis comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
The actor has been on the Gold Coast in Australia since late January because he was preparing to film a Baz Lurhmann biopic on Elvis Presley, in which he plays Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker. His wife Rita, who is an actress and singer, performed at the Sydney Opera House on 8 March and the Emporium Hotel in Brisbane on 6 March. The pair sought medical advice in Queensland after experiencing what they described as the symptoms of a "cold," including tiredness, body aches, and in Rita's case, chills and slight fevers. "To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the coronavirus, and were found to be positive," the actor said in an Instagram post.
Hanks and Wilson, both aged 63, are now in isolation in hospital, although their son Chet posted a video reassuring fans that they are doing well. While not everyone with the virus will require hospitalisation, Tom was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2013, and coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms and complications in people with underlying conditions. "We Hanks will be tested, observed and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires," he wrote. "We’ll keep the world posted and updated."
The Academy Award-winning actor's diagnosis came shortly before the WHO officially declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic. Speaking at the COVID-19 media briefing, director-general, Tedros Adhanom, said the WHO is "deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity and by the alarming levels of inaction. "We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus," he said. "And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time."
As of 16:00 CET on 15 March, there were 153,648 confirmed cases of the illness and 5746 deaths in 146 countries or territories. Of this figure, China has 81,048 cases, Italy has 21,157 cases and Iran has 12,729 cases. There are 8162 cases in Korea, 5753 in Spain, 4469 in France and 3795 cases in Germany.
The US's latest figures show 1678 cases of COVID-19, and President Donald Trump has made a decision to ban most travel from Europe to the US for 30 days, beginning on Friday 13 March. "This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history," he said. "I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus."
You can check out the WHO's rolling updates on the spread of COVID-19 here.
Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.