Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate for seven days, the Elysée Palace has announced.
“The diagnosis was established following a RT-PCR test carried out as soon as the first symptoms appeared,” the president’s office said in a statement provided to Euronews.
“In accordance with the health advice applicable to everyone, the President of the Republic will self-isolate for seven days. He will continue to work and to carry out his activities remotely.”
Several leading political figures at home and abroad have begun self-isolating, after recently coming into contact with Macron. They include the French Prime Minister Jean Castex.
According to French news channel BFMTV, the president — who turns 43 next week — has so far not developed a serious form of the illness.
Le Figaro reports that it was told by Macron’s entourage earlier this week that the president had been tested several times since the start of the pandemic, with negative results each time until now.
His recent meetings include a visit by Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa to Paris on Wednesday, while a week ago Macron was in Brussels for a European Council summit of EU leaders.
Macron ‘contact cases’ self-isolate
The news of the French president’s diagnosis was quickly followed by announcements that other politicians, who have recently come into contact with Macron, are to self-isolate.
They include European Council President Charles Michel and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. AFP reports that Sanchez has placed himself into quarantine until December 31.
Michel’s spokesman Barend Leyts said the council president met Macron in Paris on Monday.
Ursula von der Leyen tested negative on Monday and has no plans to self-isolate, an EU spokesperson said. The European Commission president tweeted her support for Macron, wishing him a speedy recovery.
Attention has focused on last week’s European summit on December 11, which Macron and other EU leaders attended in Brussels.
“All sanitary measures were observed and we have not been informed of any other participant or staff present during the last week’s summit who tested positive,” an EU official told Euronews.
In France, Prime Minister Jean Castex is self-isolating but has tested negative for coronavirus on Thursday, his Matignon office said.
It announced the test earlier, adding that he was not displaying any symptoms. Health Minister Olivier Véran is reportedly standing in for Castex in parliament.
The President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand will also self-isolate for seven days as a “contact case” following President Macron’s positive test, said a statement from the French parliament. Several other parliamentary figures are reported to be doing the same or to have cancelled meetings.
Brigitte Macron, the president’s wife, is also self-isolating but “is displaying no symptoms”, her office announced. She had tested negative for COVID-19 as recently as Tuesday before visiting a Paris hospital, AFP reports.
A planned visit by Emmanuel Macron to Lebanon next week has been cancelled, the Elysée has said. The president was due to spend time with French military personnel serving with the UN force in the country, and to meet senior Lebanese leaders.
France’s COVID struggle
The news of the French president’s positive test result comes as France, like many European countries, is struggling to keep new coronavirus cases under control.
This week the prime minister announced plans for a mass vaccination programme to begin by the end of this month, subject to approval by the European Medicines Agency and the French regulator.
On Wednesday France exited a month-and-a-half long lockdown but now has an overnight curfew from 20.00 to 06.00 to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In a tweet, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was sorry to hear the news and wished Macron a speedy recovery. He also tweeted the same message in French.
Johnson is one of several world leaders to have tested positive for the coronavirus this year. Others include US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.