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Coronavirus: Politicians around the world are going into quarantine

March 10, 2020, 12:30 PM UTC

If you find yourself under quarantine in the coronavirus crisis, know that some very powerful people are in the same situation.

An increasing number of politicians have gone into isolation around the world, largely by their own choice. Some are doing so because they are themselves infected; some because they came into contact with people who are known to have contracted the virus; and some just because of the places they visited.

Here’s a rundown of some notable examples, by region.

Europe

On Tuesday, the president of the European Parliament put himself into quarantine. The Italian social democrat David Sassoli said he was doing so because the Italian government had put the whole country under quarantine, and he had visited Italy over the weekend. “For this reason, I have decided…as a precaution, to follow the indicated measures and to exercise my function as President from my home in Brussels” for two weeks, Sassoli said.

Sassoli’s move came after the European Parliament last week banned visitors from accessing the Parliament building in Brussels—with the notable exception of climate activist Greta Thunberg, who addressed a committee last week.

Meanwhile, the leader of Sassoli’s party back in Italy—the Democratic Party, which is part of the coalition government—has actually tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Nicola Zingaretti went into quarantine late last week.

In France, Culture Minister Franck Riester was on Monday revealed to have the virus, though he is reportedly “feeling well” in quarantine. Five cases have also been confirmed in the National Assembly, France’s lower parliamentary house. One of those was the now-hospitalized conservative lawmaker Jean Luc Reitzer, who recently met with Ukrainian opposition politician Oleg Voloshyn—who has also now self-quarantined as a result.

In Spain, Javier Ortega Smith, the secretary general of the far-right Vox party, has tested positive. He has apologized for holding a rally on Sunday, which 9,000 people attended, and has urged the closure of Spain’s lower legislative house, the Congress of Deputies.

Over in the U.K., members of Parliament including Labour’s Alex Sobel and Lilian Greenwood put themselves into quarantine after attending a conference alongside someone who turned out to have contracted the virus. John McNally, a member of the Scottish Parliament, also self-isolated after attending the same transport conference.

Middle East

One of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks is underway in Iran, and the country’s government has not been spared. Two lawmakers have died there—Fatemeh Rahbar and Mohammad Ali Ramazani—as has Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.

All in all, more than 20 Iranian lawmakers have been infected and isolated. Esmail Najjar, the head of Iran’s crisis management organization, is also in isolation after having contracted Covid-19.

North America

Five Republican lawmakers have self-quarantined after coming into contact with an infected person at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) late last month. They include Senator Ted Cruz and representatives Paul Gosar, Doug Collins, Matt Gaetz and Mark Meadows. Meadows is the incoming White House chief of staff.

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence (who is in charge of the U.S.’s coronavirus response) attended and spoke at the event. Neither has been tested.

Californian Congresswoman Julia Brownley, a Democrat, has also self-isolated after interacting with someone in Washington, D.C. who turned out to be infected.

Up in Canada, Montreal parliamentarian Anthony Housefather has self-isolated after attending an event where someone had Covid-19. That event was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which took place in Washington, D.C. last week. Again, Trump and Pence were speakers there.

Asia

Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga and various government officials put themselves into quarantine at the end of February, following a state visit to China. This week it was reported that Battulga has tested negative for infection and will therefore emerge from quarantine.

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—How coronavirus is affecting the global concert industry
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—Some of the most extreme ways companies are combating coronavirus
—How Europe is adapting to the coronavirus outbreak
China’s box office was supposed to surpass North America’s this year.
—Growing coronavirus threat weighs on Apple
—Nearly half of American travelers are reconsidering their international trips due to coronavirus

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