Macron blames 'negligence' and 'bad luck' for catching coronavirus

Emmanuel Macron blames ‘negligence’ and ‘bad luck’ for catching coronavirus after he was criticised for shaking hands before testing positive for infection

  • French president tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday and is self-isolating
  • Emmanuel Macron, 42, blamed contraction of virus on negligence and bad luck
  • He was seen shaking hands, hugging and having group meals over the past week

French President Emmanuel Macron has blamed his contraction of the Covid-19 virus on a combination of negligence and bad luck on Friday.

The 42-year-old head of state urged his compatriots to stay safe in a self-shot video from the presidential retreat in Versailles where he is in self-isolation, as critics called out slip-ups in his behavior to prevent infection.

Macron said he was experiencing symptoms that included headaches, fatigue and a dry cough and promised to give daily updates and be ‘totally transparent’ about the evolution of his illness. 

French President Emmanuel Macron is seen on a screen wearing a face mask and giving the thumbs up to the camera after he tested for Covid-19 on Thursday and is now self-isolating

‘I am doing well,’ the 42-year-old French leader said, speaking softly and dressed casually in a turtleneck top. ‘Normally, there is no reason for it to evolve in a bad way.’

Macron said his infection ‘shows that the virus really can touch everyone, because I am very protected and am very careful.’

‘Despite everything I caught this virus — perhaps, doubtless, a moment of negligence, a moment of bad luck, too,’ he said.

In France, Macron’s diagnosis brought criticism that he had set a bad example as the country sees a new uptick in cases and instances of the French president violating the virus-control guidelines were captured on camera in recent days. 

The 42-year-old head of state urged his compatriots to stay safe in a self-shot video on Friday and blamed his contraction of the Covid-19 virus on a combination of negligence and bad luck

Macron usually wears a mask and adheres to social distancing rules, and has insisted that his virus strategy is driven by science. 

However, critics pointed out a number of slip-ups in his behavior over the past week, including a close-quarters handshake to an embrace with the Prime Minister of Portugal, Antonio Costa, 59, in Paris on Wednesday and repeated big, group meals. 

He shook hands and half-embraced the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Angel Gurria, 70, at a meeting Monday. 

Both were masked, but Macron’s office acknowledged Friday the move was a ‘mistake.’ 

A fellow European leader who spent time with Macron at an EU summit last week, Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic, tested positive for the virus Friday. 

Ten other leaders at the EU summit have since tested negative; others either aren’t getting tested or haven’t released results.

Macron’s diagnosis brought criticism that he had set a bad example as critics pointed out a number of slip-ups in his behavior over the past week. Pictured: French President Emmanuel Macron pats Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on the back as he arrives for work at the palace on Monday

Macron (second from left) meets with dignitaries for a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: European Council President Charles Michel, Secretary General Angel Gurria, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez, and UNESCO general director Audrey Azoulay

In his video message on Friday, the president suggested that his behavior had helped limit the spread of the virus.

‘Had I not respected the rules, the barrier measures, I would have caught it much faster and, most of all, I would have transmitted it in the preceding hours to many more people,’ Macron said.

He urged people to ‘hold firm’ and look after each other during the festive season, warning: ‘The virus is picking up, even stronger.’ 

Despite his diagnosis, Macron plans to continue running the country, and went ahead with a planned speech by video conference on Thursday. 

He said: ‘I am working at a slightly slower pace because of the virus, but I shall continue to focus on high-priority issues, such as our handling of the epidemic, or, for example, the Brexit dossier.’ 

Macron joins Britain’s PM Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump in a growing list of world leaders who have contracted Covid-19. 

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

PM Boris Johnson, who has been snubbed by Mr Macron on face-to-face Brexit talks, tweeted: ‘Sorry to hear my friend @EmmanuelMacron has tested positive for coronavirus. We are all wishing you a speedy recovery.’

Macron, 42, is staying at a residence called La Lanterne (pictured) in Versailles and is suffering from fever, cough and fatigue, it emerged today 

Video excerpts released by the EU showed the leaders spread out in a circle in a huge meeting room — Macron, and most of the other leaders, were not masked.

Macron also hosted or took part in multiple large-group meals in the days before testing positive Thursday, including with members of his centrist party and rival politicians, while 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 people sitting far from the president that they were not considered at risk.

Macron office isn’t providing details of his treatment. He is staying at the presidential residence of La Lanterne in the former royal city of Versailles, tucked in a grove tightly guarded by police.

Macron’s positive test comes as French health authorities are again seeing a rise in infections and are warning of more as French families prepare to get together for Christmas and New Year festivities. 

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

France’s Pasteur Institute released a study Friday suggesting that 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.’ 

France recorded more than 17,000 new cases on Wednesday and another 18,254 on Thursday – sparking concern as people shop and travel more ahead of the Christmas holidays

France’s virus death toll is just under 60,000. The virus has resurfaced in France – as across the rest of Europe – and there are grave fears that deaths could spike in the colder winter months 

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.  

The French health minister suggested that Macron might have been infected at the EU summit in Brussels last week, but Macron had multiple meetings in Paris as well.

France had Europe’s first virus case in January, but 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 this 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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