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Australia treasurer tested after coughing fit during virus speech

Australia's treasurer Josh Frydenberg was tested for coronavirus after suffering a coughing fit while delivering a speech about the effect of the epidemic on the country's economy
Australia's treasurer Josh Frydenberg was tested for coronavirus after suffering a coughing fit while delivering a speech about the effect of the epidemic on the country's economy SAEED KHAN AFP/File
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Sydney (AFP)

Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg was tested for coronavirus Tuesday after suffering a coughing fit in parliament that left him breathless and reaching for water.

Frydenberg's coughing fit came as he told parliament in Canberra about the economic impact the virus was having on the nation.

"Luckily I got some water -- too long a speech," he said in between coughs.

After regaining his voice, he finished outlining the expected "biggest fall on record" for the nation's GDP, which is predicted to drop over ten percent in the June quarter.

He later said he'd been advised to undergo a test for the virus, and was now in isolation waiting for the result -- expected Wednesday.

"Out of an abundance of caution it was prudent I be tested for COVID-19," he said in a statement.

His political opponents seized the opportunity to take aim at his management of the economy.

"If only the treasurer had coughed up some detail of his plan," shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said in response to his speech.

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