PARIS , -- France's prime Minister has been confirmed positive for COVID-19. He is being cited on social media as an example of what to avoid in the pandemic.
Multiple videos have circulated showing Jean Castex, a maskless Prime Minster, vigorously shaking hands in an enclosed area at the Paris mayoral congress on November 16. People are pointing out this is against France's official position that everyone should continue to take preventative measures as infections rise.
They also pointed out that Castex, who was positive on Monday, called Guadeloupe, a French Caribbean territory, "irresponsible," in the enforcement COVID-19 measures, when he didn't follow the rules.
According to the prime minister's office, the issue was being used for political ends. He said that he "tries as hard as possible to respect the rules."
Castex's office claims that the 56-year old prime minister was tested positive for the virus by his 11-year old daughter. Castex is now self-isolating for 10 more days. Castex was vaccinated this spring. However, Castex's daughter, Castex's 11-year-old daughter, is not being vaccinated as vaccines are not available in the EU for children under 12. This week, authorization is expected.
Castex's positive test, which came just hours after a visit to Brussels and a meeting of Belgian ministers, is a potential embarrassment both for the French government as well as President Emmanuel Macron in advance of April's presidential elections.
Castex had a mild case of cough overnight and plans to work in isolation, according to an official from his office. Castex was asked about the Nov. 16 event by an official. He said that Castex had washed his hands with soap between each handshake.
A health pass is required for entry to the event. This proves that people have been fully vaccinated or have had a negative test recently or are healthy.
Experts believe Castex's behavior indicates a greater drop in vigilance after the majority of France's population have received vaccine shots. Elisabeth Borne, Labor Minister, warned against complacency, admitting that "maybe we have fallen a bit, barrier actions are being less respected."
France has seen an increase in infections and death due to virus-related illnesses in the last week. The government is increasing enforcement of the health pass and encouraging people get booster shots.
Castex's positive test has led to several French ministers being forced to self-isolate while they await test results. Clement Beaune (Europe Minister) deleted an Instagram photo of Castex laughing without a mask.