Emmanuel Macron’s wife Brigitte is self-isolating after contact with a person who tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, raising questions about whether the president may also have to go into isolation.
Mrs Macron was in contact last Thursday with someone who was found to be positive for the coronavirus on Monday and who has symptoms, the president’s office said in a statement.
“In accordance with health authorities’ recommendations, [Mrs Macron] will self-isolate for seven days. Brigitte Macron has no symptoms,” the statement said.
If she also tests positive, the president could also be forced to self-isolate and cancel in-person engagements such as the national tribute on Wednesday to Samuel Paty, the schoolteacher beheaded in an Islamist attack on Friday.
Mrs Macron will not attend the tribute and will “take precautions in her private life,” a source close to the first lady said.
Mrs Macron is 67, nearly 25 years older than the 42-year-old president, which places her in an age-group that is more vulnerable to serious illness as a result of Covid-19.
However, she is thin and active, which may reduce her risk.
In France, contact cases are now only required to self-isolate for seven days because doctors believe that those infected are most contagious during the first few days after exposure to the virus.
In the UK, contact cases must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their last contact with a person who has tested positive.
Given that Mrs Macron was in contact with the infected person on October 15, her seven-day isolation period from Monday will take her to within three days of the 14 that would be required in the UK.
On Monday Mr Macron received the family of the murdered teacher and held talks with Muslim leaders, after meeting ministers and security chiefs on Sunday night to discuss a crackdown on Islamism. Social distancing and other precautions are believed to have been observed.
The first lady became a contact case two days after Mr Macron imposed a 9pm curfew on nine French cities, including Paris, aimed at stemming a surge in new infections.
The number of hospitalisations is rising in France and doctors have warned that if the spread of the virus goes unchecked, hospitals could again be overwhelmed, as they were in March and April when the country went into lockdown.