‘RIP Tom Hanks’: Official averted Trump Twitter disaster
US PRESIDENT Donald Trump had to be assured Hollywood icon Tom Hanks had not died in an Australian hospital after contracting the coronavirus during frantic exchanges between the White House and local health officials.
The Courier-Mail can reveal there was rank confusion about Mr Hank's condition on the weekend after White House officials were informed that the two-time Oscar winner had been "discharged" from hospital.
According to sources close to the fracas, Australian-based US Embassy officials sought assurances about Mr Hank's health amid fears Mr Trump was preparing to announce the passing of the much-loved Forrest Gump and Castaway star to the American people on Twitter.
A Queensland Health figure had to urgently contact the Gold Coast hospital where Mr Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson had been in isolation since last week after contracting the deadly virus to ascertain the actor's condition.
The Queensland authorities told the US Embassy officials that there had been a misunderstanding over what it meant that Mr Hanks had been "discharged" and informed them that the acting megastar's condition had improved sufficiently for him to be released from hospital.
Health Minister Steven Miles last night declined to comment.
However, a senior health figure compared the trans-Pacific confusion over Mr Hank's health to US writer Mark Twain's famous quip about his death being "exaggerated" by a US newspaper which accidentally printed his obituary following rumours he was gravely ill in London.
"It turns out that the President nearly exaggerated Tom Hank's death," the source said.
Mr Hanks, 63, who famously continues to donate coffee espresso machines to the White House press corps, thanked hospital staff on Sunday afternoon for the couple's care.
"Thanks to the helpers," he posted on Twitter. "Let's take care of ourselves and each other."
Ms Wilson was later released and the pair remain in self quarantine at a rented Queensland home.
Mr Hanks and Ms Wilson are in Queensland to work on Baz Luhrmann's biopic about late singer Elvis Presley.
Pre-production work on the film, in which Mr Hank's will play Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker, was halted and some of the crew forced to self-isolate after the couple's diagnosis.
It is believed the pair contracted the virus in the US before returning to Australia.