After he had met an array of high-ranking French and international politicians in recent days, President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for COVID-19, the presidential palace said on Thursday.
Macron was tested after symptoms first appeared. He would go into isolation for seven days at the presidential residence La Lanterne in Versailles, the Elysee Palace said.
He would continue working during this time, the statement said.
The palace later said Macron was suffering from cough, fever and fatigue. He appeared at a conference on development aid via video link late in the day and looked somewhat stricken.
The office of Macron’s wife Brigitte Macron told dpa that she was considered a close contact but hasn’t shown any symptoms so far. She remains at the Elysee Palace.
Prime Minister Jean Castex would also go into quarantine as he had been in contact with Macron, French media reported.
So far, Castex hadn’t shown any symptoms and was tested on Thursday morning.
European Council President Charles Michel is also in quarantine as he had travelled to Paris for an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) event and met Macron at the Elysee Palace on Monday, his spokesperson announced.
The Belgian politician was informed “by the French authorities that he is not considered to be a close contact,” Barend Leyts tweeted. Michel tested negative on Tuesday.
“However as a matter of precaution the president will go into self-isolation,” Leyts said. Michel is to carry on working.
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also attended the event and will go into quarantine.
Macron is scheduled to travel to Lebanon next week. He had last organized another online international aid conference with the United Nations, aimed at stabilizing the troubled country, at the beginning of December.
The presidential palace hasn’t commented on the plans and a possible postponement yet.
However, sources close to the Elysee Palace said that distancing rules had been observed during a government meeting chaired by Macron on Wednesday, and all participants had worn face masks, ruling them out as contact persons.
The French president had also met Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Paris on Wednesday, who has now cancelled visits to Sao Tome, Principe and Guinea-Bissau and is working via videoconference, news agency Lusa reported.
Late last week, Macron had attended the EU summit in Brussels and consulted with other European leaders.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that he had also been tested and would self-isolate until knowing the result. However, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would not go into quarantine since her last test was on Monday, a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who always takes a PCR test a few days after a European Council meeting, also received a negative test result, a government spokesperson said.
Several heads of states including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro have already been infected with the novel Coronavirus.
Johnson had contracted COVID-19 in the spring and had to be treated in hospital for severe symptoms.
“I’m sorry to hear that my friend Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for the virus,” he wrote on Twitter, wishing the French president a speedy recovery.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg were also among those sending their well wishes to Macron.
“I am wholeheartedly by your side,” von der Leyen tweeted. “We will defeat this pandemic together.”
Defence alliance chief Stoltenberg wished Macron “a speedy recovery from COVID-19. Allies stand together to fight the pandemic and keep our citizens safe.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also wished Macron “a speedy and full recovery.”
Even Michel, himself in quarantine, expressed “all his encouragement” and wishes for a prompt recovery.
Macron’s personal general staff includes Jean-Christophe Perrochon, a chief physician who looks after the head of state’s health.
Perrochon has worked for the health service of the armed forces and already served in the Elysee Palace under Macron’s predecessor Francois Hollande.
Macron comes from a family of doctors and has repeatedly shown an interest in medical issues. He always wears a face mask during public appointments.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, over 2.4 million cases and more than 59,000 deaths have been recorded in France, which has a population of 67 million.