The EU has postponed a summit after European Council President Charles Michel went into quarantine after close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, his spokesperson announced on Wednesday.
“The President is tested regularly and tested negative yesterday,” spokesperson Barend Leyts said on Twitter. “Respecting Belgian rules, he has gone into quarantine as of today.”
Michel learned on Tuesday that a security officer, who he had been in close contact with, had tested positive, Leyts added.
The summit set for Thursday and Friday was to address issues as wide-ranging as Brexit negotiations, climate change and the tensions between Greece and Turkey over energy rights.
It has been postponed by a week and will now go ahead on October 1 and 2.
Of the many presidencies within the European Union, a key function for the European Council President is chairing gatherings of EU heads of state and government — meaning Michel is the bloc’s top representative at leaders’ summits.
Live summits with the leaders of EU nations coming to Brussels only resumed over the summer. Throughout the spring, they met through video conferences while staying in their own capitals.
As the 27 EU leaders brokered an €1.85 trillion ($2.1 trillion) agreement on a pandemic recovery fund and long-term EU budget, Michel forced leaders to stay for four days in Brussels. During the time, the leaders often wore face masks and met in a room that normally holds 300 to accommodate social distancing. Key meetings were held on a roof terrace under the open sky.
The announcement came even as the coronavirus pandemic forced the UN General Assembly to hold its 2010 gathering with most of its core speakers issuing video addresses from afar.
Read more: Opinion: EU coronavirus deal is the wrong answer for Europe
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The wrestler-turned-movie star has become one of the latest A-List celebrities to contract COVID-19. In a video on Instagram, Johnson revealed that he, his wife and two young daughters have tested positive — adding that he’d had “a rough go” with symptoms. He also urged for people to stop “politicizing” the pandemic and to “wear your mask.”
The Brazilian football icon is one of three Paris Saint-Germain players to contract the virus, news agency AFP reported September 2. The outbreak at the club is believed to be linked to a holiday trip the team took to the Spanish island of Ibiza. Neymar later posted a picture on Instagram with his son, who also reportedly tested positive, reading: “Thank you for your messages. We’re all fine!”
The 83-year-old former Italian premier tested positive for the virus and is believed to be asymptomatic, his party announced September 2. Two of Berlusconi’s children as well as his 30-year-old girlfriend are also COVID-19 positive. The ex-premier tested positive after vacationing along Sardinia’s coastline, where Italy’s rich and famous have been known to flaunt mask policies.
Running legend Usain Bolt tested positive just days after holding a party to celebrate his 34th birthday in late August. The record-holder for the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints said he’d gone into quarantine but that he wasn’t exhibiting symptoms. Videos of Bolt’s outdoor birthday party showed guests not wearing masks during the celebration.
The Spanish actor had an unwelcome surprise for his 60th birthday in mid-August after testing positive for the coronavirus. Banderas said he spent his birthday in isolation and that he was “more tired than usual” but “hoping to recover as soon as possible.”
The Bollywood movie legend revealed in July that he’d tested positive for the virus and spent three weeks in the hospital before being discharged in early August. His son Abhishek, actress daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai and granddaughter Aaradhya also contracted the virus. Bachchan’s son remains in hospital.
Brazil’s president, who has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, contracted the virus in July. He was criticized for ignoring the safety measures recommended by health experts both before and after his diagnosis, including shaking hands and hugging supporters in crowds. His wife and sons have also tested positive.
Actor Tom Hanks and his wife, the actor and singer Rita Wilson, were among the first celebrities to announce they’d contracted the virus. The couple tested positive for the virus in mid-March while in Australia. After recovering and returning to the United States, Hanks has advocated for people to do their part to slow the spread of the disease.
Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus after returning from the United Kingdom in mid-March. Her husband later announced that he had gone into self-isolation.
In late March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came down with a coronavirus infection that landed him in the hospital for several days. Johnson spent a week at a hospital in London and three nights in intensive care where he was given oxygen and observed around the clock. He was released in mid-April and credited hospital staff with saving his life.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, tested positive for the virus in March. The top Brussels official sent out a tweet in English as well as French saying he was doing well and “in good spirits.” He added: “I am following all the necessary instructions, as is my team.”
Belarus’s embattled President Lukashenko told military officials on July 28 that he had survived an “asymptomatic” COVID-19 infection “on his feet,” days before his contentious re-election. The claim met skepticism given its timing. He initially dismissed fears about the pandemic as a “psychosis” and went as far as suggesting cures such as drinking vodka, taking saunas and playing ice hockey.
Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Anez announced on July 10 that she had the virus. “I feel well, I feel strong, I am going to keep working remotely from my isolation, and I want to thank all the Bolivians who are working to help us in this health crisis,” the leader tweeted at the time.
The president of Honduras spent time being treated at a military hospital after falling ill with coronavirus in June. He received specialized care including receiving medicines via an intravenous drip. His wife and two presidential aids also tested positive. Hernandez left hospital in early July after his symptoms improved.
The Guatemalan president told local radio on September 18 that he had tested positive for the virus. The 64-year-old, who has multiple sclerosis and uses canes to walk, said his symptoms were mild. The government said Giammattei plans on monitoring his health and continuing official duties from isolation.
kmm/msh (AP, dpa)