PARIS (AP) – French Prime Minister Jean Castex, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, is the target of widespread criticism and singled out as an example of what not to do in the pandemic.
Numerous videos of Castex without a mask are circulating, vigorously shaking the hands of officials in an enclosed space at a congress of mayors in Paris on November 16. Many people point out that this is contrary to the official position of France that everyone must abide by preventive measures.
They also point out that Castex described the French territory of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean as “irresponsible” in complying with the regulations for COVID-19 that it itself violated.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal spoke out in defense of Castex when the videos began to circulate. “We are all human,” he said.
But Castex’s positive test spells a possible setback for the government of President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the April presidential election.
Castex’s office says the 56-year-old official caught it from his 11-year-old daughter and will remain in quarantine for 10 days.
It is not clear if Castex, which was vaccinated in the middle of the year, has symptoms. His office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Experts say that Castex’s behavior indicates that there is a drop in care now that almost the entire population is vaccinated. Labor Minister Elizabeth Borne warned against being careless.
The sale of masks has fallen by 75% in the year to August.
But for the moment the French press points its fires to Castex, pointing out that it is the fourth time that the prime minister is a “contact case”, although he had not previously tested positive.
Several French ministers are isolating themselves pending the results of their tests, including the minister for Europe, Clement Beaune, who deleted a photo on Instagram in which he appears laughing and leaning towards Castex without wearing a mask.