Dec 17, 2020 - World

France's Emmanuel Macron tests positive for COVID-19


Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for the coronavirus, the Élysée Palace announced Thursday.

Why it matters: The 42-year-old president is the latest Western leader known to have contracted COVID-19.

  • U.S. President Trump and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson both tested positive and spent time in the hospital after developing serious symptoms.
  • Other prominent politicians who were infected with the virus but have since recovered include Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

What they're saying: The Élysée said in a statement that Macron took a test "as soon as the first symptoms appeared," though it did not specify what symptoms he had. He will isolate for seven days and "continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance," the palace added.

What to watch: Macron attended a European Council summit in Brussels last week with the EU's other leaders. It's unclear what contact tracing efforts are underway, but European Council Charles Michel and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez have already entered into quarantine as a precaution.

Between the lines: Macron's diagnosis could make any potential in-person meetings between EU and U.K. leaders more difficult as Brexit negotiations head into their final and most critical stretch. A trade agreement has not been agreed upon, and the U.K. is set to end its Brexit transition period on Dec. 31.

The big picture: France has reported nearly 2.5 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic — the most in Europe and the fifth-most in the world, according to Johns Hopkins data. Nearly 60,000 people have died.

  • Daily infections fell substantially in December in the wake of a second national lockdown, implemented at the end of October after France saw a massive surge of over 40,000 new cases per day last month.
  • Lockdown rules in France have since been eased incrementally in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday.
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