France’s Macron tests positive for Covid-19, president and PM to self-isolate

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French President Emmanuel Macron is to self-isolate for the next week after testing positive to Covid-19. Prime Minister Jean Castex will also go into isolation, although he has reported no symptoms. They will continue to carry out their duties remotely.

"The president tested positive for Covid-19 today," the statement from Emmanuel Macron's office said on Thursday, adding that he had been tested after the "onset of the first symptoms".

Macron will now, in accordance with national regulations, "self-isolate for seven days. He will continue to work and carry out his activities remotely," it said.

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

Castex shows no symptoms but will no longer be going to the French Senate Thursday to outline his government's vaccine strategy to combat Covid-19, his office said in a statement.

The president of the French parliament (National Assembly), Richard Ferrand announced that himself and several other ministers who had lunch with Macron on Tuesday were cancelling their appointments and isolating themselves.

EU chief Charles Michel has also announced he will self-isolate after meeting Macron.

No Lebanese Christmas

As a result, Macron's trip to Lebanon next week will be cancelled.

He was due to spend Christmas Eve in the company of French soldiers from the Finul - the United Nations forces in Lebanon, and hold meetings with the country's leaders.

Macron's wife Brigitte is considered a contact case, but at this stage has shown no symptoms, her office said.

Her test for Covid-19 on 15 December ahead of a visit to the Saint-Louis Hospital in Paris was negative.

The French president is one of several heads of state and government around the world who have contracted Covid-19, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump.

Johnson immediately took to social media to wish Macron a prompt recovery.

Spanish leader Pedro Sanchez, who held talks with Macron earlier, is now considered a contact case, and will go into isolation until 24 December, according to AFP on Twitter.

Infection rate still too high

The news comes as France announces its plans to tackle the second wave of the coronavirus with the arrival of end of year festivities.

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.

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

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

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

(with AFP)