France’s Culture Minister Has Entered Quarantine After Testing Positive for Coronavirus

The politician was due to hold meetings to review the country's measures to restrict the spread of the infection at large gatherings.

French Culture Minister Franck Riester. Photo: Alain JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images.

French Culture Minister Franck Riester has self-quarantined after testing positive for Covid-19, or coronavirus. The politician began displaying symptoms yesterday, the ministry confirmed, ahead of scheduled meetings to review measures put in place to limit the spread of the infection.

Riester is in quarantine at home but is reportedly “feeling fine,” according to his post on Facebook today. “I am suffering from the classic flu symptoms today,” he wrote, adding that he is working remotely. The 46-year-old politician had spent several work days last week sitting in the National Assembly, where five cases of the virus have been confirmed. French president Emmanuel Macron had not met with his culture minister in several days, although he was in attendance at the assembly.

The news brings into the focus the fact that politicians, who by the nature of their work need to frequently meet in large meetings and make public appearances, are on the frontlines of the disease. France’s head of state encouraged his cabinet to take the same precautions as all French people to minimize the spread of infection.

Riester clarified that the did not attend meetings once it became clear that there had been an outbreak on the National Assembly.

France is one of Europe’s most affected countries after Italy, which has now extended travel restrictions across the whole country in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

As of writing, France has 1,412 confirmed cases and 30 deaths. The government has taken actions to attempt slowing the rate of infection, including the banning of gatherings over 1,000 people. Festivals, concerts, and football games have been canceled, postponed, or are being streamed online without attendant audiences.

Riester had planned to meet with representatives from the cinema and performing arts industries today, March 10, to assess the efficacy of new safety measures being taken, The Art Newspaper reports.

The Louvre reopened last week with updated security measures after several days of closure as the museum discussed how to protect its staff; it has gone cash-free and guards are not handling tickets. The Musée d’Orsay is regulating entrance numbers to comply with the new rules. At the Louvre, only those with pre-purchased tickets online or passes are being allowed into the museum.

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