Today’s Richard Wilkins has COVID-19 with no symptoms
Australian television reporter Richard Wilkins has opened up about his shock at testing positive to coronavirus despite having no symptoms after meeting with Rita Wilson while she was in Sydney.
The veteran Channel 9 entertainment presenter has been in self-isolation at home since Thursday after coming into contact with the singer after her Sydney Opera House performance on Saturday, March 7.
Wilkins told 2GB's Alan Jones the diagnosis came as a huge shock as he had none of the symptoms of the virus.
"If there are people like me wandering around with no symptoms that's a scary thought but then again if I'm what it looks like when you get the thing then that's not so bad," he said.
"I thought there was no way in the world I would ever contract it."
Wilkins took the test after seeing Wilson twice - once after her Opera House show and again on the Today Show.
The celeb guru got a swab for the virus upon the recommendation of his colleagues at Today and is planning to get another swab in coming days to confirm if the virus is still active.
But there's no complaints from Wilkins, who is enjoying the fortnight at home.
"I've had the weekend off at home, I thought 'this is pretty good, I don't mind a bit of self-isolation at the best of times.'"
He credits his positive experience of the virus on his healthy lifestyle and fitness regimen.
"I'm not supremely fit but I think there's a lot to be said for having a good immune system and relatively healthy lifestyle," he told 2GB.
The news comes after Wilson and her husband, movie star Tom Hanks, tested positive for coronavirus on the Gold Coast on Thursday.
Wilson was a guest on Today Extra with host David Campbell and Belinda Russell who have also gone into isolation and have been tested for the virus.
Both have been cleared of coronavirus while a forth employee is still awaiting results.
A Nine spokeswoman said Wilkins was not showing any symptoms of the coronavirus.
"Since he is still without symptoms the authorities advise that he has not knowingly put others at risk, although anyone he has been in contact with prior to Thursday afternoon has been notified and will be tested if they show any symptoms of the virus," she said.
"Our primary focus is for the wellbeing of our people and ensuring we continue to provide the Australian community with timely, measured information regarding the most up to date information we have from authorities.
"We want to assure everyone Richard is feeling well and still without symptoms."
Wilkins posted a photo of himself in the company of Olivia Newton-John and Paul Hogan five days ago.
Radio host Ben Fordham said Wilkins was feeling fine.
"I spoke to Dickie … and he feels fine,'' he tweeted last night.
Wilkins' son Christian, who is a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, went into self-isolation after learning of his father's diagnosis following last night's episode and will be tested for COVID-19 this morning.
Christian performed on Dancing With The Stars last night before being told of his fathers diagnosis.
"Christian Wilkins was not aware of his father, Richard Wilkins', positive diagnosis of the COVID-19 virus until after tonight's Dancing With The Stars episode," a Channel 10 representative said. "Although Christian does not believe he has been exposed, he has self isolated and will be tested first thing tomorrow morning."
More broadly on Dancing With The Stars, the publicist said: "A number of precautions had already been put in place for Sunday's show to minimise any potential exposure or spread of the virus including promoting good hygiene practices backstage and in-studio, and filming without a studio audience."
A question mark now hangs over the remaining contestants on the show, including Celia Pacquola, Claudia Karvan, Ed Kavalee and Dami Im.
"All Dancing With The Stars cast and crew have been asked to self-monitor for symptoms relating to COVID-19 while we await the results of Christian's test," the representative said. "Warner Bros. and Network 10 will provide all cast and crew the appropriate accommodation and support during this time."
Richard Wilkins diagnosis has forced Nova radio to implement a number of precautions as the TV host presents weekend shows on smoothfm.
Sydney staff will work from home, including the breakfast team led by Ryan 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald and Michael 'Wippa' Wipfli.
"All employees who may have come into direct contact with Richard, which includes Fitzy & Wippa and their team, will now be tested and self-isolate for a period of 14 days as per the Department of Health requirement," Nova Entertainment's chief programming and marketing officer Paul Jackson said. "Nova 96.9's breakfast team will be equipped with technology that will allow them to broadcast from their respective homes from tomorrow."
Jackson added: "As part of procedures already implemented, NOVA's studios and premises have been and will continue to be thoroughly cleaned and sterilised. As an additional precaution, most of our Sydney staff will work from home from Monday to Friday. Our employees' health and wellbeing are our highest priority, so we will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) and act accordingly in the best interests of our staff."
Hanks meanwhile, who is in isolation in a Gold Coast hospital with Wilson, took to social media over the weekend to show he had made himself at home.
The star, in the country filming Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic, had a plush kangaroo holding an Australian flag, a clip-on koala and a tube of Vegemite, which he had spread liberally on toast.
"Thanks to the Helpers. Let's take care of ourselves and each other," he wrote.
As is the case for many industries the Australian entertainment industry has been hit hard over the past few weeks as the coronavirus crisis unfolds.
Studio audiences on TV shows including The Project and Studio Ten have been cancelled and networks are under pressure to shut down production until the crisis passes.
In the US Ellen DeGeneres has done the same with her studio audiences and major TV productions like Grey's Anatomy have been shut down.