By Tracy Cabrera
PARIS, FRANCE — Several European leaders are self-isolating after French president Emmanuel Macron tested positive for Covid-19.
According to a statement from the Elysée Palace, the 42-year-old French head-of-state will self-isolate for seven days while working remotely.
In recent days, Macron had attended a number of high-profile events, including a European Union summit, attended by a number of world leaders and other dignitaries.
Following his diagnosis, European leaders, including Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez, opted to self-isolate as well.
“The President of the Republic has been diagnosed positive for Covid-19 today,” the Elysée said on Thursday morning (December 17). The diagnosis was made following a “test performed at the onset of the first symptoms,” the statement added.
The French president’s wife Brigitte Macron, who is 67, is also self-isolating despite being negative of symptoms.
It is not yet known how the French leader, the youngest in over a century, caught the virus but his office said it was identifying any recent close contacts he has had.
On Monday, December 14, Macron hosted members of the intergovernmental group Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and on the following day French parliamentary heads.
Last week he attended along with almost every other EU leader a summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Among others who will be going into self-isolation are European Council chief Charles Michel and OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría, all of whom met President Macron the current week.
Spain’s PM and Irish leader Micheál Martin have both tested negative but, like Macron, they will work remotely from quarantine or limit contacts.
Portuguese prime minister António Costa, 59, has cancelled all official trips and is isolating and awaiting test results after a working lunch in Paris with President Macron on Wednesday, December 16.
Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel also are self-isolating following contact with the French president.
In a statement, Bettel wished Mr. Macron a ‘speedy recovery’.
French prime minister Jean Castex, 55, and parliamentary speaker Richard Ferrand, 58, are likewise self-isolating, their offices confirmed.
Mr. Castex, who is not showing any symptoms and has tested negative, was due to introduce the government’s Covid vaccination policy in the Senate on Thursday and health minister Olivier Véran is now doing it instead.
Despite the unfortunate news about Macron, the Elysée is doing everything to project an image of business as usual. Already the French president is back at work and a meeting with his finance and foreign ministers has gone ahead as planned—though with the visitors in an adjacent room.
It’s being emphasized that the workings of government have already been radically adapted for Covid—with video conferences now the norm—so unless the president takes a turn for the worse no-one will notice much of a difference.
Meanwhile, as with any ordinary citizen, the trace-and-test system has kicked in and numerous dignitaries foreign and domestic have been told the bad news that they have to self-isolate.
In view of the foregoing, the message is clear: Emmanuel Macron may be the president of France, but for the purposes of the virus he is a human like any other. So he will behave according to the rules.