Ministers may soon fly into US virus storm

Australia’s defence and foreign ministers could fly to the United States despite the risk of contracting coronavirus.

Linda Reynolds and Marise Payne are expected to visit Washington DC within the next fortnight for annual diplomatic and defence talks.

The pair would likely be required to quarantine for two weeks upon their return to control the spread of the virus.

Despite the fortnight’s quarantine, which would rule the ministers out of upcoming parliamentary sitting weeks, the opposition believes it is essential they attend.

“There was some talk about doing it virtually, but I think it’s much more important that it’s done in person,” Labor deputy leader Richard Marles told Sky News on Thursday.

“We need to take the best medical advice about how to manage their return but it needs to be done in the context regarding what they’re doing is completely essential.”

The defence minister’s office was tight-lipped on her travel arrangements.

“Arrangements for AUSMIN in 2020 will be announced closer to the date,” a spokeswoman told AAP.

The meetings are due to take place on July 28.

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