France’s Macron tests positive for coronavirus

French president’s office says he was tested after the ‘onset of the first symptoms,’ will work remotely while in quarantine for a week

French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the press at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on December 16, 2020. (Thomas Coex/AFP)
French President Emmanuel Macron addresses the press at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on December 16, 2020. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, the presidency said, adding that he would now self-isolate for the next week.

He is one of several world leaders who have contracted COVID-19, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump.

Macron was tested after the “onset of the first symptoms” and will now, in accordance with national regulations, “self isolate for seven days. He will continue to work and carry out his activities remotely,” his office said in a statement.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid wishes Macron a speedy recovery.

“The world needs you healthy and full of energy,” Lapid tweeted.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, visits the devastated site of the explosion at the port of Beirut, Lebanon, August 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, Pool)

As result of the diagnosis, a trip next week by Macron to Lebanon — where the president had been pressing for far-reaching political change after the giant Beirut port explosion in August — has been canceled, his office said.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex will self-isolate after contact with Macron, his office said.

It said the premier 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-19.

Macron’s wife Brigitte will also be self-isolating but also shows no symptoms, her office said.

Parliament speaker Richard Ferrand is also self-isolating after contact with Macron, his office said.

The Spanish and Portuguese prime ministers were also entering quarantine after meeting with Macron.

Infections still high

France earlier this week eased restrictions imposed to battle the second wave of the coronavirus but infection rates remain high.

There is still a nationwide overnight curfew from 8 p.m. to halt the spread of the virus while restaurants and cafes as well as theaters and cinemas remain closed.

Over 59,300 people have died in France of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to official figures.

The recording of over 17,000 new cases on Wednesday alone has also generated concern as people shop and travel more intensely ahead of the Christmas holidays.

People walk in a pedestrian area, some days before Christmas and one day after the end of a coronavirus lockdown, on December 16, 2020, in Nantes, France. (Loic Venance/AFP)

Like other EU states, France is pinning its hopes on a vaccine to quell the virus and Castex said Wednesday the country will receive around 1.16 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by year end.

Castex said that the start of the vaccine campaign was conditional on approval from the European Medicines Agency, expected on December 21.

“It is only at the end of spring that we will open the vaccination program to the entire population,” he added.

Another problem for the French authorities is that according to an opinion poll, only 53 percent of people want to be vaccinated, among the lowest rates in the world.

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