Macron humiliated: Furious sailors attack President after they catch virus on NATO drill

Emmanuel Macron was forced to put all 2,000 crew members of the Charles de Gaulle frigate under quarantine after a coronavirus outbreak kicked off during a joint NATO exercise in the Atlantic. France’s Ministry of Defence confirmed on Wednesday 668 crewmembers had tested positive for COVID-19, with 38 sailors currently undergoing treatment in hospital and another in intensive care. The ministry has been unable to confirm the origin of the outbreak but local media has suggested the first cases began after a layover in Brest before the exercise started.

Defence Minister Florence Parly confirmed decontamination operations are underway to ensure no trace of the coronavirus remains on the carrier as she expressed her “solidarity to the quarantined soldiers and their families.”

The statement added: “The Chief of the Naval Staff has ordered a command investigation to learn all about the management of the epidemic within the aéronaval group.”

The Charles de Gaulle had been on a mission since January 21 and was stationed for several weeks in the Mediterranean as part of Operation Chammal, part of the operations an international coalition is engaged in as part of the war against ISIS.

A member of the crew, who spoke on condition of anonymity to France Bleu Provence, claimed the forces had “played with their lives.”

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The man said he was seething, adding: “The army played with our health, our life. 

“The barrier measures were difficult to respect aboard the aircraft carrier.

“We should have stayed in Brest. All this lacks transparency.”

Emmanuel Macron earlier this week announced the strict lockdown he imposed last month would be extended by a further four weeks as the rate of contagion in France has yet to subside. 

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The French President publicly apologised on behalf of his Government for “not being prepared enough” to tackle the deadly virus.

Mr Macron said: “Mistakes were made.

“Were we sufficiently prepared? Obviously not – no one is prepared for a crisis of this magnitude.”

The French leader also pledged all people showing symptoms will be able to be tested from May 11 as he urged the public to continue heeding social distancing advice and staying home.

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He continued: “The more they are respected, the more lives will be saved. This is why the strictest confinement must still continue until Monday, May 11.

“This is the only way to act effectively during this period. This is the condition for slowing the spread of the virus even further, succeeding in finding places available in intensive care and allowing our caregivers to rebuild their strength.

“On May 11, we will be able to test all people with symptoms,’ said Mr Macron.

“May 11 will only be possible if we continue to be responsible civic respecting the rules and that the spread of the virus has actually continued to slow.”

Mr Macron also confirmed schools and universities will be allowed to re-open on the day in a bid to push the country back into normality.

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