Slovakia's PM tests positive for Covid-19 after attending EU summit

Slovakia’s PM tests positive for Covid-19 a week after attending EU summit where President Macron is thought to have caught the virus

  • Slovak PM Igor Matovic said today he had tested positive for Covid-19, a week after he attended the EU Summit on December 10
  • Macron, 42, is staying at a residence called La Lanterne with his chief physician 
  • The French president is showing symptoms after testing positive on Thursday 
  • In the preceding days he had rubbed shoulders with a long line of EU leaders  

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic said today he had tested positive for Covid-19, a week after he attended an EU summit in Brussels.

The summit is believed to be where French President Emmanuel Macron caught the virus, leading a host of European leaders and top French officials to rush into self-isolation.

‘Today, I am one of you,’ Matovic wrote on his Facebook page, attaching a screenshot of a text message with his test results. 

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic said today he had tested positive for Covid-19, a week after he attended an EU summit in Brussels. Pictured: Matovic at the EU Summit on December 10

Pictured: Matovic speaking to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the EU Summit in Brussels on December 10

‘For nine months I have been battling people who measure the pandemic just by the number of closed bars and incite people against measures and the government,’ he said. 

‘Now it seems it will be a different holiday.’   

Macron is suffering a fever, a cough and fatigue and has a military doctor at his bedside in Versailles after catching coronavirus, it emerged today. 

Macron, 42, is staying at a residence called La Lanterne after testing positive for Covid-19 in a result which sparked frantic contact-tracing among EU leaders.  

The EU summit is believed to be where French President Emmanuel Macron caught the virus, leading a host of European leaders and top French officials to rush into self-isolation

The Elysee’s chief physician Jean-Christophe Perrochon is staying with Macron during his quarantine, according to Le Parisien, while first lady Brigitte Macron, 67, is isolating separately in Paris. 

While Macron is in a younger age group than most world leaders and is not known to have any medical problems, he had already developed symptoms by the time his diagnosis was announced on Thursday.

It comes as Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic today announced he has also tested positive for Covid-19, a week after he attended an EU summit in Brussels with Macron and 23 other EU leaders.

THURSDAY: 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 and is now self-isolating

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

Macron is suffering from fever, cough and fatigue, officials with the presidency said on Friday. 

They would not provide details of his treatment. 

Health campaigners furious that Macron sat down with 10 senior colleagues for dinner

By PETER ALLEN FOR MAILONLINE 

Criminal complaints that could result in prison sentences have been filed over a dinner organised by French President Emmanuel Macron before he went down with Coronavirus.

Health campaigners are furious that the 42-year-old head of state sat down to a meal with up to 10 senior colleagues at the Élysée Palace in Paris on Wednesday evening.

The next day, Mr Macron’s aides confirmed he had tested positive for Covid-19, after displaying ‘mild symptoms’ caused by the virus.

Not only was the dinner in the middle of an 8pm to 6am curfew in the French capital, but it broke government guidelines limiting the number sitting around a meal table to six.

On Friday, two Paris-based pressure groups called ‘The Collective Victims of Coronavirus France’ and ‘The Hanged’ filed criminal complaints for ‘endangering the lives of others’.

This is a criminal offence in France – one punishable by up to a year in prison and a maximum fine of €15,000 (£13,600).

Maître Fabrice Di Vizio, the lawyer for the groups, said on Friday that the complaint had initially been filed against ‘X’, meaning it potentially targets anyone who helped organise the dinner, or who attended.

Mr Macon will be excluded from any possible indictment, because as President of France he enjoys immunity from prosecution.

Jean Castex, the Prime Minister, is also likely to enjoy legal privilege, according to those familiar with the complaint.

But those who can potentially be taken to court include Richard Ferrand, the President of the National Assembly, the second chamber of France’s parliament.

Christophe Castaner, the head of Mr Macron’s En Marche ! (On the Move) party in parliament and the former Interior Minister, is also a possible defendant.

So too are En Marche ! MPs and key Macron policy advisors including Stanislas Guérini and Thierry Solère, all of whom were at the meal which went on until around 12.30am.

Maître Di Vizio told Capital magazine that Élysée staff were threatened by the meal, ‘which did not fall within the framework of the exceptions provided for in the curfew: it was not urgent and could have been replaced by a videoconference.’

Paris prosecutors confirmed that the complaint had been filed, while the Élysée insisted that all health guidelines had been followed.

‘It was a working dinner, held in a large salon, with everyone involved abiding by social distancing guidelines,’ said a presidential source.

Mr Macron had on Friday retired to La Lanterne, the official presidential residence in Versailles, west of Paris, to carry on working in isolation as he tried to get over his illness.

Following his Coronavirus diagnosis, there were fears that the President may have infected others, after a frantic week during which Mr Macron appeared to have little interest in social distancing.

On Monday, Mr Macron was pictured shaking hands with Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development chief Angel Gurria in the Élysée palace courtyard, and also embracing the 70-year-old, who has since gone into isolation.

This was despite Mr Macron Tweeting on July 12: ‘You know them, they save lives: barrier gestures are not an option!’

These ‘barrier gestures’ include avoiding handshakes, hugs and kisses, and on Thursday an aide to Mr Macron admitted that Mr Macron made an ‘unfortunate’ mistake in shaking Mr Gurria’s hand, adding: ‘There’s no denying it.’

Mr Macron’s wife, Brigitte Macron, is also self-isolating, but at the Élysée, and on not in Versailles.

 

In the days before his positive test, he had rubbed shoulders with a long list of EU leaders in Paris and Brussels – with the leaders of Spain and Portugal among those now in isolation.      

Macron, who joins Britain’s Boris Johnson and US president Donald Trump in a growing list of world leaders who have contracted Covid-19, will isolate for seven days but plans to continue running the country via video conference. 

He has also cancelled a planned December 22 trip to Lebanon, where he has been spearheading efforts at reform after the disastrous Beirut port explosion in August.  

Last night, Macron appeared on screen at a conference on French foreign aid policy, wearing a mask but not looking visibly ill. 

On Thursday, an aide to Mr Macron admitted that Mr Macron made an ‘unfortunate’ mistake in shaking hands with fellow politicians, saying: ‘There’s no denying it.’ 

Macron had embraced Portuguese premier Antonio Costa as recently as Wednesday, and shook hands with 70-year-old OECD chief Jose Angel Gurria on Monday.

A presidential official indicated that Macron was likely already infected by then because he had probably contracted the virus at last week’s EU summit. 

Macron mingled with fellow EU leaders in the summit room and was filmed giving fist-bumps to some of his counterparts. 

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic announced today he had tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the summit. 

‘Today, I am one of you,’ Matovic wrote on his Facebook page, attaching a screenshot of a text message with his test results.

German chancellor Angela Merkel, 66, tested negative for the virus after attending the summit along with all but two of the EU’s 27 heads of government.     

The president took a test ‘as soon as the first symptoms appeared,’ the Elysee said in a brief statement on Thursday morning. 

An official added later that he was experiencing ‘light symptoms’ which he had started to feel late on Wednesday.

Political party chiefs from the Senate and National Assembly, said they would do the same because they had a lunch with Mr Macron on Tuesday.

French government guidelines call for no more than six people to dine together during the pandemic, but there were as many as 20 people around Macron’s table.

Boris Johnson, who had an alarming scare with the virus in April, sent best wishes to his ‘friend’ Mr Macron in English and French on Thursday.  

Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘Sorry to hear my friend Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for coronavirus. We are all wishing you a speedy recovery.’ 

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, said she was with the French president ‘with all my heart’.

‘We are going to defeat this pandemic together,’ she said on Twitter. ‘We will continue to work hand in hand to immunise and protect our citizens.’

A key aspect of the EU talks was how to implement a Covid vaccine on the continent. 

The EU is lagging behind Britain, which has already begun injecting people with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. 

A decision by the EU’s regulator is expected in the coming days, according to officials including Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn. 

Also dominating discussions was Brexit, with Macron coming into close quarters with both Merkel and Von der Leyen.

He was also seen gesturing in Hungarian leader Viktor Orban’s face while standing just a few yards from Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz. 

Others in attendance included Dutch PM Mark Rutte, Belgian PM Alexander De Croo, Italian PM Giuseppe Conte and European Parliament president David Sassoli. 

Days after the summit, Macron took Portugal’s 59-year-old PM Antonio Costa in his arms on the steps of the Elysee.   

He also welcomed dignitaries on Monday for an OECD meeting attended by Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez and European Council president Charles Michel.   

Sanchez, Costa and Michel are among those isolating, although none of them say they have tested positive.    

Macron’s wife Brigitte has gone into isolation for the second time, having quarantined in October after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.  

WEDNESDAY: French President Emmanuel Macron with Prime Minister Of Portugal Antonio Costa, 59, at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday

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

MONDAY: French President Emmanuel Macron pats Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on the back as he arrives for work at the palace on Monday

MONDAY: Macron shakes hands and holds 70-year-old Angel Gurria, the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, on Monday at the palace

FRIDAY: Macron in a diplomatic scrum with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left), uropean Council President Charles Michel (centre) and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban (right)

LAST THURSDAY: Macron speaking with the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen amid tense Brexit discussions – the virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10: French President Emmanuel Macron, center, speaks with Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, right, during a round table meeting during an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels

MONDAY, DECEMBER 7: Mr Macron with his wife welcoming the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to the palace. Mr Macron’s 67-year-old wife Brigitte has also gone into isolation

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’S CONTACTS 

WEDNESDAY:

Embraces 59-year-old PM of Portugal Antonio Costa at Elysee Palace.

MONDAY:

Meets with European Council President Charles Michel, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez, OECD chief Angel Gurria, and UNESCO general director Audrey Azoulay.  

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11:

Macron takes centre stage at EU summit in Brussels – meets with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mrs Merkel’s office said she tested negative after the summit. 

Others in attendance included Dutch PM Mark Rutte, Belgian PM Alexander De Croo, Italian PM Giuseppe Conte and European Parliament President David Sassoli.  

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10: 

French president is seen in a diplomatic scrum with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

WHO IS SELF-ISOLATING?

Spanish PM Sanchez, EU Commission President Michel, French PM Jean Castex, Parliament speaker Richard Ferrand and Mr Macron’s wife Brigitte. 

They have not tested positive. 

Virus has incubation period of 14 days, meaning that anyone who came into contact with Mr Macron up to Dec. 3 is advised to get tested and self-isolate. 

France earlier this week eased restrictions imposed to battle the second wave of the coronavirus but infection rates remain high.

There is still a nationwide overnight curfew from 8 pm to halt the spread of the virus while restaurants and cafes as well as theatres and cinemas remain closed.

Over 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 the vaccine to quell the virus and Castex said Wednesday the country will receive around 1.16 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by year end.

Castex said that the start of the vaccine campaign was conditional on approval from the European Medicines Agency, expected on December 21.

‘It is only at the end of spring that we will open the vaccination programme to the entire population,’ he added.

‘Vaccines are a major source of hope but if you look at the vaccination capabilities that we will have in France and elsewhere in Europe, we will need time,’ immunologist Jean-François Delfraissy told BFM television this morning.

Delfraissy estimated there were 22 million people in France more vulnerable than others and that it could take until May to vaccinate them all, before shots could be rolled out to others.

Another problem for the French authorities is that according to an opinion poll, only 53 percent of people want to be vaccinated, among the lowest rates in the world. 

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 fall 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.

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

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 and his wife Brigitte Macron leave after an homage ceremony to WWII fighter and ‘Compagnon de la Liberation’ Daniel Cordier, in Paris, November 26

Brigitte Macron gives a dictation to school children in support for the European Leukodystrophy Association (ELA), at a school Le Chesnay, near Versailles on October 12

Macron and his wife Brigitte talk to volunteers of the association uvres de Secours aux Enfants (OSE), which takes care of sick and disabled children, in Paris, on October 6

MONDAY: Macron (l) speaks to Louise Ekland on stage during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 draw at Palais Brongniart

French Prime Minister Jean Castex (left) and French President Emmanuel Macron last month. Mr Castex is also self-isolating

World leaders who caught Covid 

Donald Trump

The US president, who has long played down the pandemic, caught the disease at the height of the presidential campaign in October.

The 74-year-old was admitted to hospital but soon made a theatrical return to the White House and boasted of his rapid recovery.

Jair Bolsonaro

The 65-year-old Brazilian president had also played down the seriousness of the virus, calling it a ‘little flu’, but caught the disease in July.

During his quarantine, Mr Bolsonaro said: ‘I knew I was going to catch it someday, as I think unfortunately nearly everyone here is going to catch it eventually. What are you afraid of? Face up to it.’

Boris Johnson

The British prime minister, 56, was among world leaders the worst afflicted by coronavirus.

Mr Johnson was rushed to intensive care in April at the height of the pandemic in Europe.

Such was the severity of his illness that preparations were made should he die.

Prince Albert II of Monaco

The 62-year-old head of state caught coronavirus in March and medics gave him the all clear at the start of April.

Mikhail Mishustin

The Russian Prime Minister caught the virus in April. Mishustin, 54, was forced to hand powers over to his colleagues while recovering from the disease. 

Ambrose Dlamini

The Prime Minister of Swaziland this week became the first world leader to die of Covid-19, two weeks after he was rushed to hospital in South Africa. 

The 52-year-old tested positive for the disease in mid-November but was said to be feeling well and was asymptomatic. But his condition deteriorated and he was taken from the tiny landlocked nation to a hospital in neighbouring South Africa.

Juan Orlando Hernandez

The Honduras president announced in June that he had tested positive, along with two other people who worked closely with him. Hernandez said he had started what he called the ‘MAIZ treatment,’ an experimental and unproven combination of microdacyn, azithromycin, ivermectin and zinc.

He was briefly hospitalized and released. He has added his voice to growing pleas for equitable access to any COVID-19 vaccine, asking the recent U.N. gathering of world leaders, ‘Are people to be left to die?’

Alexander Lukashenko

The president of Belarus, who dismissed concerns about the virus as ‘psychosis’ and recommended drinking vodka to stay healthy, said in July he had contracted it himself but was asymptomatic.  

Alejando Giammattei

The Guatemalan president said he tested positive for the virus in September. ‘My symptoms are very mild. Up to now, I have body aches, it hurt more yesterday than today, like a bad cold,’ he said during a televised address. ‘I don’t have a fever, I have a bit of a cough.’ He said he’d be working from home.

Jeanine Anez

The virus drove the Bolivian interim president into isolation in July, but she said she was feeling well.

Luis Abinader

The newly elected president of the Dominican Republic contracted and recovered from COVID-19 during his campaign. He spent weeks in isolation before the country’s July election.

Nuno Gomes Nabiam  

Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau said he tested positive in April.

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