French President Macron tests positive for COVID-19

French president is the latest world leader to become infected with the virus, presidential palace confirms.

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the press upon the arrival of the Portuguese prime minister for a working lunch at the Elysee Palace in Paris on December 16, 2020 [Thomas Coex/AFP]

French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, the presidential Elysee Palace announced on Thursday.

It said the 42-year-old leader took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared”.

The brief statement did not mention what symptoms Macron experienced, but said he would isolate himself for seven days.

“He will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance,” it added.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex will also self-isolate after contact with Macron.

Castex shows no symptoms but will no longer be going to the French Senate on Thursday to outline his government’s vaccine strategy to combat COVID, his office said in a statement.

Brigitte Macron, Macron’s wife, is also self-isolating although she is not showing any symptoms, her office said.

Macron is the latest world leader to become infected with COVID. United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and United States President Donald Trump have also battled the coronavirus.

In France, since the start of the pandemic, 2.4 million people have had coronavirus, while almost 59,472 have died with the virus.

By comparison, in Italy, Europe’s worst hit country in terms of deaths, 66,537 have died, followed closely by the United Kingdom, with 65,618.

Lebanon trip cancelled, European leaders isolate

The French presidency said it was trying to assess where Macron could have contracted the virus.

Meanwhile, his trip to Lebanon, which was scheduled for December 22, has been cancelled.

Macron attended a European Union summit at the end of last week. On Wednesday, Macron met with Antonio Costa, the Portuguese prime minister, for a working lunch. He has also recently met with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Costa has cancelled official trips and is in self-isolation, his office said on Thursday.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will stay in quarantine despite testing negative for COVID-19 after he met with Macron on Monday, Sanchez’s office said Thursday.

Sanchez will remain isolated and under medical surveillance until December 24 and will be tested again at that point, a statement said.

OECD head Angel Gurria said on Thursday on his Twitter account he was quarantining and would have a coronavirus test after a contact with Macron this week.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, is also in isolation following news of Macron’s infection.

Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Paris, said Macron’s infection had thrown up a “plethora” of issues.

“First of all, regarding who the president has been in contact with over the past few days, which of course you can imagine, as a world leader, is many people,” she said.

“We know, for example, that he met the Portuguese prime minister … and he also had a meeting with the whole French cabinet just yesterday, on Wednesday.

“And all this comes really at a time in which France is beginning to lift some of its lockdown restrictions.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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