On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron blamed Covid-19 for a combination of carelessness and misfortune, urging his countrymen to stay safe as critics called for errors in his behavior to prevent infection, from close quarters. Shake hands with frequent large group meals over the past week.
Apparently Self-shot video From the presidential retreat in Versailles where he was isolated, Macron said he was experiencing symptoms including headache, fatigue and a dry cough. He promised to provide daily updates and to be “completely transparent” about the progression of his disease.
“I’m fine,” said the 42-year-old French leader, speaking softly with a bottle of gel on the desk behind him and wearing a casual high-neck shirt. “Usually, there is no reason for it to develop badly.”
Macron said his infection “shows that the virus can really touch everyone, because I am very protected and I am very careful.”
“Despite everything that infected me with this virus – perhaps, without a doubt, a moment of neglect, a moment of misfortune as well,” he said.
Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic tested positive for the virus on Friday, and is a European leader who spent time with Macron at the European Union summit last week. Ten other leaders at the EU summit have proven negative since then. Others either do not undergo testing or have not reported results.
The White House said on Friday that US President Donald Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus and spent three days at Walter Reed Medical Center in early October, spoke with Macron on Thursday and wished him a speedy recovery. Several White House aides and members of the Trump campaign team tested positive after he did.
In France, Macron’s diagnosis has sparked criticism that he has set a bad example as the country witnesses a new spike in cases and doctors are warning families to take precautions this holiday season – especially at the dinner table.
Macron usually wears a mask and adheres to the rules of social distancing, and insists his virus strategy is driven by science. But it was taken in front of the camera in recent days violating French antivirus guidelines.
The head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Angel Gurria, shook hands and hugged him at a meeting on Monday. The two were masked, but Macron’s office acknowledged on Friday that the move was a “mistake”.
The president indicated in his video message on Friday that his behavior helped limit the spread of the virus.
“Had I not respected the rules and procedures of the checkpoint, I would have picked them up faster, and most of all, I would have sent them in the preceding hours to many more people,” Macron said.
He urged people to “stick to” and take care of each other during the holiday season, warning: “The virus is transmitted, but is stronger.”
Last week, Macron spent two days in intense negotiations at the European Union summit in Brussels with leaders of 26 other member states. Video snippets released by the European Union showed the leaders spread out in a circle in a huge conference room – Macron and most of the other leaders were not masked.
Macron also hosted or participated in several large group meals in the days leading up to the positive test on Thursday, including with members of his centrist party and rival politicians, while the French are currently advised to avoid gatherings of more than six people. His office would call attendees for meals, but he told some people sitting further away from the president that they were not considered in danger.
Macron’s office does not provide details of his treatment. And he lives in the presidential residence at La Lantern in the former royal city of Versailles, in a grove under heavy police guard.
Macron’s positive test comes as French health authorities once again see a spike in infections and warn of more as French families prepare to meet at Christmas and New Year celebrations. France reported 18,254 new infections on Thursday, and the death toll was just under 60,000.
The French Pasteur Institute released a study Friday indicating that meal times at home and in public places are a major source of pollution. Pasteur’s epidemiologist, Arnaud Fontane, said on Radio France-Inter on Friday, “We can see each other, we simply won’t be very many, and at critical moments in meals, there aren’t many people at the same table.”
The presidency said Macron took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared” on Thursday morning and would self-isolate for seven days, in line with recommendations of the national health authorities. Macron plans to continue working, and went ahead with a planned video address Thursday.
The French health minister indicated that Macron may have been infected at the European Union summit in Brussels last week, but Macron held multiple meetings in Paris as well.
France recorded its first case of the virus in Europe in January, but Macron’s government has been criticized for not having adequate masks or tests and for not counting the population quickly enough. A strict two-month lockdown has reduced infections, France put children back in school and their parents back to work.
But infections have spiked again this fall, so he announced a new, lighter lockdown in October to ease the pressure on hospitals. Procedures were eased slightly this week, although restaurants, tourist sites, gyms and some other facilities remain closed.
Leicester report from Le Beek, France. Karel Janicek in Prague, Kathryn Jashka in Paris and Rave Cassette in Brussels contributed.