French Prime Minister Jean Castex tested positive Monday evening for Covid-19, prompting the quarantine of his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo with four ministers.
All gathered in Brussels in the morning for a meeting on the subject of security. The five Belgian officials will undergo a PCR test and will remain in quarantine until the test result is negative, the cabinet of the Belgian head of government said.
They are ministers Sophie Wilmès (Foreign Affairs), Ludivine Dedonder (Defense), Annelies Verlinden (Interior) and Vincent Van Quickenborne (Justice).
Jean Castex was accompanied by the Ministers of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, of the Secretary of State for Europe, Clément Beaune.
The Director General of Internal Security, Nicolas Lerner, that of External Security, Bernard Emie, the National Counterterrorism Prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard, and the National Coordinator of Intelligence and the Fight against Terrorism, Laurent Nunez, were also part of the delegation during this trip.
After a press conference devoted to strategic and operational coordination in the field of security and the fight against terrorism, MM. Castex and De Croo had laid a wreath at the foot of the monument in memory of the victims of terrorist attacks. They were then joined by the four Belgian ministers.
Jean Castex’s agenda “will be adjusted in the coming days so that he can continue his activities while being in isolation” for ten days, Matignon told AFP.
The Prime Minister suffered Monday evening from “slight symptoms”, according to his entourage, in particular a “slight cough”.
He had learned on Monday afternoon that one of his 11-year-old daughters had tested positive. “He therefore immediately performed a PCR test, which turned out to be positive,” said Matignon.
Matignon indicated that Jean Castex had not seen Emmanuel Macron since the Council of Ministers on Wednesday morning.
The head of the French government, 56, had been vaccinated in the spring, his second injection of AstraZeneca dating from June 19, and was eligible for a booster dose on December 19.
He had never tested positive until then.
– Postponed trips –
The Prime Minister’s services assured that Mr. Castex had “always strictly respected barrier gestures”, estimating that “it happened to many parents to be contaminated by their children” minors under 12 years, ineligible for vaccination .
The leader of France rebellious, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, considered Monday that the positive test of the Prime Minister “(proved) that vaccination does not solve everything”, calling for “to restore free testing” for all, while they are only for people who have been vaccinated.
Since the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister had already been in contact with Covid-19 on three occasions: in September 2020 during the Tour de France after sharing the car of the director of the competition, Christian Prudhomme, a second time at the following a dinner with Emmanuel Macron in December, then in June, after Mr. Castex’s wife contracted the disease.
Before him, President Emmanuel Macron had tested positive in December 2020. Several ministers also contracted the virus, such as the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, that of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot.
That of Foreign Trade Franck Riester had tested positive in March 2020, as well as the Secretaries of State for the Ecological Transition at the time, Brune Poirson and Emmanuelle Wargon.
France has been experiencing a fifth wave of the epidemic for several weeks. On average calculated over seven days, the number of daily cases has almost doubled in one week: it is now more than 18,000, against 10,000 a week earlier.