Frenchman Macron clears virus and fever at Versailles retirement

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PARIS (AP) – As French President Emmanuel Macron avoids the coronavirus during a presidential retreat in Versailles, critics on Friday denounced slippages in his virus-prevention behavior, from a close handshake to repeated meals in a large group during the last week.

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 on Friday. Some other leaders present at the summit said they tested negative, while some were not tested and others have yet to announce the results of their tests.

In France, Macron has been criticized for actions seen as a bad example as the country sees a further increase in confirmed cases and doctors warn families to take precautions this holiday season – especially at the table.

While Macron generally wears a mask and adheres to social distancing rules, and has insisted that his antivirus strategy is guided by science, the 42-year-old president has been filmed in recent days in violation of France’s own guidelines .

He shook hands and half-kissed Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development chief Angel Gurria in a meeting on Monday. Both were masked, but Macron’s office admitted on Friday that the move was a “mistake”.

Last week Macron spent two days in intense negotiations at an EU summit in Brussels with the leaders of the 26 other EU countries. Video clips released by the EU showed the leaders scattered 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 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 urged to avoid gatherings of more than six persons. His office contacted those present for meals, but told some people sitting far from the president that they were not considered to be at risk.

Macron suffers from fever, cough and fatigue, presidential officials said on Friday. They would not provide details of his treatment. He stayed at the presidential residence of La Lanterne in the former royal city of Versailles, nestled in a grove closely guarded by the police.

Macron’s positive test comes as French health officials see an increase in infections again and warn more as French families prepare to reunite for Christmas and New Year celebrations. France reported 18,254 on Thursday. additional new infections and her death toll is just under 60,000.

The French Pasteur Institute published a study on Friday suggesting that meal times at home and in public are a major source of contamination. Epidemiologist Pastor Arnaud Fontanet told France-Inter radio on Friday that during the holidays, “we can see each other, just not too many, and at critical times of meals, not too many people at the same table. “

Macron carried out a test “as soon as the first symptoms appear” on Thursday morning and will self-isolate for seven days, in accordance with the recommendations of the national health authorities, the presidency said. Macron plans to continue working and has gone ahead with a speech scheduled via 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 the first case of the virus in Europe in January, but Macron’s government has come under fire for not having enough masks or tests and for not confining the population quickly enough. A strict two-month lockdown has reduced infections and France has sent children back to school and their parents to work.

But infections rose again this fall, so he declared a new, milder lockdown in October aimed at relieving pressure on hospitals. The measures were relaxed slightly this week, although restaurants, tourist sites, gyms and some other facilities remain closed.

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Karel Janicek in Prague, Catherine Gaschka in Paris and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed.

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