'I did the responsible thing': MasterChef's Melissa Leong misses landmark episode

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer

Eagle-eyed MasterChef fans may have been preoccupied with the show’s new coronavirus social distancing measures on Monday night’s episode, but a few still managed to pick up on a glaring absence.

Judge Melissa Leong was missing from the show’s episode on Monday evening, with the new coronavirus social distancing measures distracting somewhat from the hole in the judging trio.

The usual trio of judges was missing a vital player on Monday evening's social distancing episode. Photo: Ten

“Melissa couldn’t be with us tonight but she’ll be back on deck soon,” was all fellow Judge Jock Zonfrillo would say of his colleague’s absence, leaving several fans concerned and unhappy with the turn of events.

Now Melissa has taken to social media to explain her notable absence.

It turns out those concerned it had something to do with the newly arrived pandemic were right, but thankfully not too right.

The judge revealed it was a health scare that kept her away from set, as several symptoms saw her tested for the dangerous illness but given the all-clear.

“For those of you wondering where I am in this landmark episode, I had sinusitis and took myself to the GP in order to do the safe, thorough and responsible thing in such uncertain times,” the judge wrote in a lengthy Instagram post.

“I was cleared and returned to set the next day.⁣⁣”

Fans upset over ‘crucial’ Melissa’s absence

Fans took Melissa's absence as an opportunity to praise her 'crucial' role on the show. Photo: Ten

The news is sure to come as a relief to fans who initially flooded social media with concern and disappointment at the vivacious judge’s absence.

Many pointed out her brief hiatus just highlighted the boon she was the new-look MasterChef alongside fellow judges Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allen.

She’s not the first familiar face on TV forced to take absence by the virus.

Aussie media rocked by Tom hanks coronavirus scare

When news broke that actor Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson had contracted the virus while doing press in Australia, major shows like Today were forced to quarantine staff.

Rita had appeared on Today Extra on Monday for an interview with hosts Belinda Russell and David Campbell, where she also performed at the network's studio in North Sydney.

Subsequently, 20 staff members were forced into isolation while their tests were done, with Richard Wilkins a notable positive to the virus.

Thankfully Melissa will no be forced to undo the gruelling multiple tests that Richard was as she promises a speedy return to screen after a negative test.

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