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French president tests positive for Covid-19 as European leaders self-quarantine

PARIS, France: A number of European leaders have self-quarantined themselves after French President Emmanuel Macron was tested positive for Covid-19.

Macron, 42, will self-isolate for seven days while working remotely.

The French president attended several high-profile events in recent days, including an EU summit.

Following his diagnosis, several other European leaders, including the Spanish PM, said they would self-isolate.

“The president of the Republic has been diagnosed positive for Covid-19 today,” an official statement issued by the Elysée said on Thursday morning. 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 self-isolating but has no symptoms.

It is not yet known how Macron caught the virus but his office said it was identifying any recent close contacts he has had.

On Tuesday President Macron hosted French parliamentary heads and on Monday members of the intergovernmental group the OECD.

Last week he, along with almost every other EU leader, attended a summit in Brussels.

Among those going into self-isolation are European Council chief Charles Michel, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, all of whom met President Macron this week.

Sanchez has tested negative but, like Mr Macron, will work remotely from quarantine.

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.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel too are self-isolating following contact with the French president.

In a statement, Bettel wished Macron a “speedy recovery”.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin has tested negative for Covid-19 but will limit his contacts, a spokesperson said.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, 55, and parliamentary speaker Richard Ferrand, 58, are also 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 – now Health Minister Olivier Véran is doing it instead.

France this week ended a six-week national lockdown, replacing the measure with a curfew to help deal with soaring cases.

Macron last week attended a two-day European Council heads of state summit, finishing on Friday.

However, the French president is considered to have become potentially contagious as of Monday evening, a senior EU official told the BBC.

All sanitary measures were observed during last week’s meeting and the council has not been informed of any other participants testing positive, the source added.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wore a mask at the summit and tested negative for the virus on Tuesday, German officials said after hearing the news about President Macron.

A French presidential spokeswoman confirmed that all of Macron’s forthcoming trips, including a scheduled visit to Lebanon on 22 December, had been cancelled.