Emmanuel Macron at presidential retreat in Versailles with fever

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Emmanuel Macron; France; Politics
French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has a fever, cough and fatigue as he suffers from coronavirus in Versailles, officials have said.

They would not provide details of his treatment but said he is staying at the presidential residence of La Lanterne in the former royal city.

While Mr Macron usually wears a mask and adheres to social distancing rules, and has insisted his virus strategy is driven by science, the 42-year-old president has been captured on camera in recent days violating France’s own guidelines.

He shook hands and half-embraced the head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria, at a meeting on Monday.

Both wore masks but Mr Macron’s office acknowledged on Friday that the move was a “mistake”.

Last week, the president spent two days in intense negotiations at an EU summit in Brussels with the leaders of the other 26 EU countries.

Video excerpts released by the EU showed the leaders spread out in a circle in a huge meeting room but Mr Macron and most of the other leaders were not wearing masks.

Mr Macron also hosted or took part in multiple large group meals in the days before testing positive on Thursday, including with members of his party and rival politicians.

French people are currently advised to avoid gatherings larger than six people.

His office has been contacting those present for the meals but told some who were sitting far from the president that they are not considered to be at risk.

Mr Macron’s positive test comes amid a rise in infections and warnings of more as French families prepare to get together for Christmas and New Year festivities.

France reported another 18,254 new infections on Thursday and its death toll is now just under 60,000.

The Pasteur Institute released a study on Friday suggesting meal times at home and in public are a major source of contamination.

Pasteur epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet said on France-Inter radio Friday that during the holidays “we can see each other, simply not be too numerous and at critical moments at meals, not too many people at the same table”.

Mr Macron took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared” on Thursday morning and will self-isolate for seven days, in line with national health authorities’ recommendations, the presidency said.

He plans to continue working and went ahead with a planned speech via a video conference call on Thursday.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran suggested the president might have been infected at an EU summit in Brussels last week but Mr Macron had multiple meetings in Paris as well.

Europe’s first virus case was in France in January but Mr Macron’s government came under criticism for not having enough masks or tests and not confining the population quickly enough.

A strict two-month lockdown brought infections down and France sent children back to school and their parents back to work.

But infections surged again in autumn so he declared a new, softer lockdown in October aimed at relieving pressure on hospitals.

The measures were relaxed slightly this week, though restaurants, tourist sites, gyms and some other facilities remain closed.

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