File photo Sept 2, 2020 : French President Emmanuel Macron was back in Beirut to celebrate the country’s centenary. In his second visit to the country since the deadly August 4 explosion , Macron urged Lebanese officials to implement government reforms. While he has been twice to the scene of the explosion , none of the top Lebanese leaders including the president has foot foot there

French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for Covid-19, the Élysée Palace announced on Thursday.

“The president of the Republic has been diagnosed positive for Covid-19 today,” the presidential palace said in a statement.

“This diagnosis was made following a PCR test performed at the onset of the first symptoms,” the statement said, without detailing what symptoms Macron exhibited.  

The presidency said he would isolate for the next seven days, as recommended by French health authorities, and has cancelled all foreign trips. 

Macron “will continue to work and carry out his activities remotely”, the Élysée Palace said. 

Prime Minister Jean Castex, who was in contact with Macron at the government’s weekly Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, will also self-isolate. 

Macron attended a European Union summit at the end of last week where he notably had a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Macron and other government officials have said they are following strict sanitary protocols during the pandemic, including not shaking hands, wearing a mask and keeping distance from other people. 

Macron is following recommendations from French health authorities that, since September, have reduced isolation time from 14 days to seven. Authorities said at the time that this is the period when there is the greatest risk of contagion and that reducing it allows better enforcement of the measure. French health officials have said the 14-day quarantine was not well-respected by many in the country who considered it too long.

France has eased restrictions imposed to battle the second wave of the coronavirus but infection rates remain high. There is still a nationwide overnight curfew in place from 8pm to halt the spread of the virus while restaurants and cafés, as well as theatres and cinemas, remain closed.

More than 59,300 people have died in France of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to official figures. The recording of over 17,000 new cases on Wednesday alone has also generated concern as people shop and travel more intensely ahead of the Christmas holidays.

Like other EU states, France is pinning its hopes on a vaccine to quell the virus. Prime Minister Castex said Wednesday the country will receive around 1.16 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year.

Prior to this announcement , Macron was planning his third visit to Beirut on Dec. 22-23 amid a worsening dispute between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, which has so far obstructed the birth of a new government.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Update: French President Emmanuel Macron cancelled all his trips abroad including a planned visit to Lebanon after contracting coronavirus, the Elysee office said on Thursday

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