How world leaders are living through COVID-19

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Emmanuel Macron arrives at the site of a field hospital set up, to treat coronanvirus patients, by the French army in the parking lot of an existing hospital in Mulhouse. (AFP screengrab)
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Angela Merkel doing her shopping, including four bottles of wine and a pack of toilet paper, during the coronavirus crisis. (Twitter photo)
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Updated 03 April 2020

How world leaders are living through COVID-19

  • Macron regularly goes out to meet care workers, researchers and workers without wearing a mask, except in hospitals
  • Russian President Putin is working remotely from his country residence at Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow

PARIS: World leaders in voluntary or enforced isolation have, like billions of people around the globe, been forced to change their lifestyles during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here is a snapshot:
The German chancellor on Friday emerged from 14-days quarantine in her Berlin home and returned to her offices where she will continue to run the country via video and audio conference.
She had gone into isolation after meeting a doctor who was infected, but was negative in a series of tests.
During the crisis she has been photographed in a supermarket, pushing a trolley containing four bottles of wine and a pack of toilet paper, something she had criticized some Germans for massively stockpiling.
British Prime Minister Johnson has been confined to Downing Street since testing positive on March 27, after suffering mild symptoms.
He said on Friday he would continue his self-isolation as “alas, I still have one of the minor symptoms... a temperature.” His partner, Carrie Symonds, who is pregnant, has not been living with him during his isolation.
He has led a cabinet meeting by videoconference and has put self-filmed videos of himself on Twitter, seeking to “reassure” the nation that he is in “constant touch” with his ministers and the health authorities in the fight against the coronavirus.
The Canadian Prime Minister has led his country from isolation in his official Rideau Cottage residence in Ottawa, since his wife Sophie Gregoire was diagnosed positive on March 12.
Every morning he goes onto the lawn to give a news conference, at which he announces the new measures adopted that day and gives news of his family. He has stressed that he has no symptoms and has canceled all travel.
Officially cured on March 28, his wife has since taken their three children to the prime minister’s summer residence.
The US president, who has tested negative twice, has canceled several campaign meetings across the country as he seeks re-election in November. Except for a flying visit to a Virginia naval base, he has remained in Washington, mainly at the White House.
He hold a daily press conference, followed live by millions of television viewers. He also tweets and gives frequent interviews on Fox News.
Russian President Putin is working remotely from his country residence at Novo-Ogaryovo outside Moscow. He is being tested regularly for the virus as are the people in his entourage and is fine so far, the Kremlin said.
Concerns over his health emerged after he was shown on television shaking hands, without protective clothing, with the chief doctor of Moscow’s main hospital, who then tested positive.
On Wednesday, Putin was shown on television having his first video conference with the prime minister and the cabinet.
Macron has not been tested, according to his entourage, because he has no symptoms. Nine-tenths of workers at his Elysee palace have been sent home and the press has reported that some people in his entourage have tested positive.
While France is in confinement, he regularly goes out to meet care workers, researchers and workers without wearing a mask, except in hospital, in line with an official French position that masks are only useful for the infected and care workers.
He greets people in an Indian way, with his hands joined. The official photographer has tweeted a photo of him washing his hands.
The Japanese prime minister has been very visible during the crisis addressing parliament several times a day and giving televised press conferences most weekends.
Since the crisis began in the country hit the hardest, Italy’s Prime Minister Conte has been a frequent presence on television, cutting into evening programming to announce new security measures from Palazzo Chigi, his official residence.
Conte has been photographed working at his desk, participating in meetings over videoconference and taking calls.
Conte told La Repubblica daily in March that he had tested negative for the coronavirus, saying his doctors “follow me closely.
The Chinese leader kept a low profile at the beginning of the epidemic which first broke out in China in December, appearing only in mid-February wearing, like the vast majority of Chinese, a mask as COVID-19 raged.
Also the number one of the Chinese Communist Party, he has mainly remained in Beijing during the epidemic, except for a visit to the epicenter Wuhan in central China as the situation started to improve there. He only leaves the capital to encourage the resumption of economic activity.
Reports about him are shown every evening on the television news showing him with or without a mask: uncovered when he addresses a giant videoconference with hundreds of provincial officials or with leaders of the G20, but covered during this week’s visit to provincial factories and farms.
He continues to preside meetings, to publish articles in the official press and give major speeches, cementing his role as the head of the fight against the new coronavirus.
It is not known if he has been tested.


Sweden should have done more to combat coronavirus: health chief

Updated 18 min 26 sec ago

Sweden should have done more to combat coronavirus: health chief

  • Nearly 4,500 Swedes have died in the outbreak
  • Sweden has relied more on voluntary measures, social distancing and common-sense hygiene advice to stem the outbreak

STOCKHOLM: Sweden should have done more to combat the coronavirus and prevent a much higher national COVID-19 death rate than in neighboring countries, the man behind the Public Health Agency’s pandemic strategy said on Wednesday.
Nearly 4,500 Swedes have died in the outbreak, a higher mortality rate than in Denmark, Norway and Finland, and criticism has been growing over the government’s decision not to impose lockdown measures as strictly as elsewhere in Europe.
Anders Tegnell, the chief epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency, said that in hindsight Sweden should have done more.
“If we were to run into the same disease, knowing exactly what we know about it today, I think we would end up doing something in between what Sweden did and what the rest of the world has done,” Tegnell told Swedish radio.
“Yes, I think we could have done better in what we did in Sweden, clearly.”
While most of Europe, including Norway, Denmark and Finland, closed schools, shops and businesses, bringing much of society to a halt, Sweden has relied more on voluntary measures, social distancing and common-sense hygiene advice to stem the outbreak.
It shut care homes to visitors in late March, but around half of the deaths in the country have been among elderly people living in care facilities.
Tegnell said it was hard to know which measures taken elsewhere might have been the most effective in Sweden.
“Maybe we will find this out now that people have started removing measures, one at a time,” he said. “And then maybe we will get some kind of information on what, in addition to what we did, we could do without adopting a total lockdown.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said the government would launch an enquiry into the handling of the pandemic.