France president Emmanuel Macron is the latest political leader to succumb to coronavirus, with the presidential Elysee Palace confirming a positive diagnosis on Thursday.
The Elysee statement said the president took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared,” but didn’t elaborate on his symptoms. The French leader will self-isolate for seven days. “He will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance,” the statement added.
France has recorded more than 2.4 million cases of coronavirus with some 59,000 deaths. The French public could start receiving Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the end of December if the European Union approves it next week, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.
France has pre-ordered 200 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, Castex added. Macron recently said in an interview with the digital-native French media outlet Brut that he believes compulsory vaccinations would be counter-productive.
“We don’t face off defiance with an obligation,” said Macron of his skepticism towards compulsory vaccination practices. “We don’t know everything about this vaccine, like we don’t know everything about this virus.”
Meanwhile, the country’s chief scientific advisor has called for caution. Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, president of le Conseil Scientifique, told the Le Parisien newspaper that it would take several months for the vaccine to have a positive impact.
“We must continue to be extremely careful for three to six months still,” Delfraissy said. “Science is moving forwards — silently — but it is moving forwards.”
The country has been on partial lockdown since Oct. 30 with theaters, restaurants, bars and concert halls closed. The reopening of theaters and concert halls had been set for Dec. 15 but the French government upheld the restrictions until Jan. 7, sparking an uproar within the country’s culture sector. French film and exhibitors’ guilds have appealed the government’s decision to reopen at the end of the month. Restaurants and bars are expected to reopen on Jan. 20 or later.