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Politics

Virus-Stricken Macron at Presidential Retreat with Fever

December 18, 2020

PARIS — As French President Emmanuel Macron rides out the coronavirus in a presidential retreat at Versailles, French doctors are warning families who are heading for the holidays to remain cautious because of an uptick in infections — especially at the dinner table.

While Macron routinely wears a mask and adheres to social distancing rules, he hosted or took part in multiple group meals in the days before testing positive Thursday. Critics say that's a bad example for compatriots advised to keep their gatherings to six people.

Macron is suffering from fever, cough and fatigue, officials with the presidency said Friday. They wouldn't provide details of his treatment. He is staying at the presidential residence of La Lanterne in the former royal city of Versailles.

Macron's positive test comes as French health authorities are again seeing a rise in infections and 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."

Macron's aides have scrambled to contact all the people he had been near in recent days. The French health minister suggested that he might have been infected at an EU summit in Brussels last week, but Macron had multiple meetings in Paris as well.

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 in a brief statement. The 42-year-old president "will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance," the statement added. Macron went ahead with a planned speech by videoconference Thursday.

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