PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron has blamed COVID-19 for a combination of negligence and bad luck, urging compatriots to stay safe, while critics have called for slippage in its behavior to prevent infection, up close handshake at repeated large group meals in the last week.
In what looked like a self-shot video from the presidential withdrawal from Versailles, in which he isolates himself with symptoms that include headaches, fatigue and dry cough, Macron promised to provide daily updates and be “totally transparent” about to the evolution of his disease.
“I’m doing well,” he said, speaking slowly and casually dressed with a collar. “Normally, there is no reason to evolve in a bad way.”
The 42-year-old French leader said his infection “shows that the virus can really affect everyone, because I am very protected and I am very careful.”
“Despite everything I caught, I had this virus – maybe, no doubt, a moment of negligence, a moment of bad luck, too,” he said.
A leading European colleague who spent time with Macron at an EU summit last week, Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic, tested positive for the virus on Friday. Some other leaders present at the summit reported that they were negative, while some had not been tested and others had not yet announced the results of their tests.
In France, Macron has faced criticism for actions that have been seen as a bad example, as the country sees a new rise in confirmed cases and doctors are warning families to take precautions this holiday season – especially at dinner. .
While Macron usually wears a mask and follows the rules of social distancing and insisted that his virus strategy is science-driven, the president has been caught in the room in recent days, in violation of France’s virus control guidelines.
He shook hands and half-hugged the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Angel Gurria, in a meeting on Monday. Both were masked, but Macron’s office acknowledged Friday that the move was a “mistake.”
Last week, Macron spent two days in intense negotiations at the EU summit in Brussels with the leaders of the other 26 member states. Video clips released by the EU showed that the leaders were spread in a circle in a huge meeting room – Macron and most of the other leaders were not masked.
Macron also hosted or attended 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 larger gatherings. six people. His office contacted those present for meals, but told people who were away from the president that they were not considered in danger.
The Macron office does not provide details about his treatment. He is staying at the La Lanterne presidential residence in the former royal city of Versailles, hidden in a well-guarded grove of police.
Macron’s positive test comes as French health authorities once again see an increase in infections and warn of more as French families prepare to reunite for the Christmas and New Year festivities. France reported another 18,254 new infections on Thursday, and the death toll is just under 60,000.
The French institute Pasteur launched a study on Friday suggesting that lunch hours at home and in public are a major source of contamination. Epidemiologist Pasteur Arnaud Fontanet told France-Inter radio on Friday that, during the holidays, “we can see each other, we are simply not too numerous, and in critical moments at meals, not too many people at the same table.”
Macron took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared” on Thursday morning and will isolate himself for seven days, according to the recommendations of the national health authorities, the presidency said. Macron plans to continue working and continued with a planned speech by video conference on Thursday.
The French health minister suggested that Macron could have been infected at the EU summit in Brussels last week, but Macron also had several meetings in Paris.
France had Europe’s first case of the virus in January, but Macron’s government was criticized for not having enough masks or tests and not limiting the population fast enough. A strict two-month blockade reduced infections, and France sent children back to school and their parents to work.
But infections have risen again this fall, so he said a new softer blockage in October was meant to ease pressure on hospitals. The measures were slightly relaxed this week, although restaurants, tourist sites, gyms and other facilities remain closed.
Leicester reported from Le Pecq, France. Karel Janicek in Prague, Catherine Gaschka in Paris and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed.