French President Macron tests positive for COVID-19

PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, the presidential Elysee Palace announced on Thursday.

It said the president had taken a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared.” The brief statement did not say what symptoms Macron was experiencing.

It said he would be isolated for seven days. “He will continue to work and perform his activities remotely,” he added.

It was not immediately clear what contact tracing efforts were being made. Macron attended a European Union summit late last week, where he notably had a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He met the Prime Minister of Portugal on Wednesday. There was no immediate comment from Portuguese officials.

Macron also held the weekly government cabinet meeting on Wednesday in the presence of Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers. Castex’s office said the prime minister is also isolating himself for seven days.

The French Presidency confirmed that Macron’s trip to Lebanon, scheduled for next week, will be canceled.

Macron and other government officials repeatedly say they adhere to strict hygiene protocols during the pandemic, including no shaking hands, wearing a mask, and keeping their distance from other people.

Macron is following the recommendations of the French health authorities that have reduced self-isolation time from 14 days to seven since September. The authorities said at the time that this is the period when the risk of contamination is greatest and that reducing it allows for better enforcement of the measure.

French health authorities argued this week that the 14-day quarantine was not well respected by many in the country who considered it too long.