French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for coronavirus, the presidential Elysee Palace announced on Thursday. It said the president took a test "as soon as the first symptoms appeared." The brief statement did not say what symptoms Macron experienced. It said he would isolate himself for seven days. "He will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance," it added.
It was not immediately clear what contact tracing efforts were in progress. Macron attended a European Union summit at the end of last week, where he notably had a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He met Wednesday with the prime minister of Portugal. There was no immediate comment from Portuguese officials.
Macron on Wednesday also held the government's weekly Cabinet meeting in the presence of Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers. Castex's office said that the prime minister is also self-isolating for seven days.
Castex shows no symptoms, but will no longer be going to the French Senate on Thursday to outline the government's vaccine strategy to combat the virus, his office said in a statement. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said he will self-isolate until December 24. He met with Macron on Monday of this week.
France has recorded over 2.4 million cases and 59,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. The French presidency confirmed that Macron's trip to Lebanon scheduled for next week is being cancelled.
Macron and other government officials repeatedly say that they are sticking to strict sanitary protocols during the pandemic, including not shaking hands, wearing a mask and keeping distance from other people.
Macron is following French health authorities' recommendations that since September have reduced the self-isolation time from 14 days to seven. Authorities said at the time that this is the period when there is the greatest risk of contagion and that reducing it allows 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. (AP)
With inputs from DW