European Leaders Isolating After Macron Tests Positive for Covid
Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, speaks during a news conference at a European Union leaders summit in Brussels. (Photographer: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Bloomberg)

European Leaders Isolating After Macron Tests Positive for Covid

Leaders from across Europe announced they’re isolating after coming into contact with French President Emmanuel Macron who tested positive for Covid-19.

Macron had shown symptoms of the disease and will isolate for seven days as he continues to work, his office said in a statement on Thursday. An official at the Elysee Palace said the symptoms were mild, but declined to provide details on the circumstances of the infection or where the president will be isolating.

Macron’s diagnosis, days before his 43rd birthday, comes at a particularly sensitive time. France is struggling to tame a resurgence of the virus, with the president fielding criticism of his handling of the crisis and the economic fallout. He’s also trying to push through controversial plans to bolster the powers of the police while dealing with the closing stages of Brexit.

His wife, Brigitte, has no symptoms and tested negative on Dec. 15, according to the Elysee. She is isolating.

Prime Minister Jean Castex also tested negative, his office said, after announcing earlier on Thursday that he was self-isolating and will be tested again in seven days.

Among European leaders restricting their movements after recent contacts with Macron are:

  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez
  • Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa
  • Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel
  • Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin
  • Charles Michel, president of the EU leaders’ council

An EU official said Macron is considered a potential risk of contagion as of Monday evening. During the European Council summit on Dec. 10 - 11 all health measures were observed, and we have not been informed of any other participant or staff present during the meeting who tested positive, the official said.

“I am whole-heartedly with you,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told Macron on Twitter. “Together, we will defeat this pandemic.”

Macron is the third leader of a Group of Seven nation to contract the virus, after U.S. President Donald Trump and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson -- who wished the French leader a “speedy recovery” in a Tweet.

As Europe seeks to emerge from a second wave, European Union authorities are pushing for a compressed approval timeline for the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE to start an immunization campaign across the continent just after Christmas.

France imposed a second partial lockdown in October. It reported more than 17,000 new cases in 24 hours on Wednesday, and 289 new deaths. The lockdown was lifted this week and replaced with a curfew and the government will be easing restrictions further for the Christmas holidays, and while businesses are open, museums, cinemas and theaters remain closed.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has imposed a nationwide lockdown that will extend over Christmas and hinted it could slip into January as well. In the U.K., Johnson is allowing households to mix over the holiday.

France expects to receive 1.16 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by Dec. 30, Castex said in a parliamentary debate. He said France, in coordination with other European countries, will do “everything possible” to start vaccinating in the last week of the year.

France is counting on a further delivery around Jan. 5, and an additional 1.6 million doses in February.

Macron was due to travel to Lebanon next week.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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