French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, prompting a track-and-trace effort across Europe following numerous meetings between the French leader and EU heads of government in recent days.
Macron, who will turn 43 on Monday, is running France remotely and has gone into quarantine at the presidential retreat of La Lanterne close to the Palace of Versailles, the presidency said.
A presidential official described Macron as tired and having a cough. His wife Brigitte tested negative but was also self-isolating, staying at the Elysee palace in central Paris.
Macron lives a healthy, active lifestyle, his aides say. He exercises regularly and does not smoke.
“This diagnosis was made following a PCR test performed at the onset of the first symptoms,” Macron’s office said, declining to give further details of his condition or the symptoms he had.
Macron will cancel all upcoming trips including Lebanon where he has led international efforts to resolve a deep-rooted political crisis.
Closer to home, Macron’s COVID-19 infection spurred other leaders to take their own tests.
Macron joined all but two of the European Union’s 27 leaders at a summit in Brussels late last week to discuss climate change, the EU budget and Turkey.
The presidential official said it was almost certain Macron was infected at the summit given the timing of his symptoms.
Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others were seen initially mingling in the summit room with their face masks on, and Macron was filmed giving fist-bumps to other participants.
Early in the pandemic, Macron was swift to adopt the ‘namaste’ greeting. But more recently he reverted to more tactile greetings that jarred with social-distancing rules.
On Monday, Macron was captured shaking hands with OECD chief Gurria, who is 70. His office said it was an “unfortunate” mistake.
France has one of the highest COVID-19 death counts in Western Europe. The disease has killed nearly 60,000 people and Macron’s positive test comes just after France replaced a nationwide lockdown with an overnight curfew, even as new cases show signs of ticking higher once again.