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Franck Riester. Photo: UMP Photos/Flickr.

France’s Culture Minister Contracts Coronavirus

French Culture Minister Franck Riester has become the latest politician to be infected with the coronavirus, France24 reports. The forty-six-year-old minister tested positive for covid-19 Monday night after spending several days at the lower house of France’s National Assembly, where five others—four parliamentarians and a cafeteria worker—have contracted the virus. Sources who are close to Riester said that he is “feeling well” and is continuing to work from home. The high-profile case has brought attention to the high risk of becoming ill that lawmakers face since they are frequently required to attend large meetings and public gatherings.

As of Tuesday, France has reported 1,412 confirmed cases of the virus and a total of twenty-five deaths from the illness. Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on Sunday that the government was banning public events with one thousand people or more as part of its efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus. The Louvre reopened last week after a temporary three-day closure, during which time the institution addressed the staff’s safety concerns by adding new security measures—the museum is going cashless, has restricted admission to online ticket holders, and has informed guards that they no longer have to move among guests in rooms where large crowds congregate, such as where the Mona Lisa is on view. The Musée d’Orsay is also implementing new measures, including capping the number of daily visitors.

France is the hardest-hit European country behind Italy, which announced on Monday sweeping new measures in its attempt to contain the virus. The country has restricted travel nationwide after the number of people infected with the virus reached 9,172 and the number of deaths surpassed 460 people—the majority of which were elderly patients and individuals with underlying health conditions. In addition to the shuttering of schools and businesses and the cancelation of public events, museums and historic sites have closed, including the Colosseum and the Galleria Borghese in Rome, the Vatican Museums, the Uffizi in Florence, Fondazione Prada and the Pirelli HangarBicocca in Milan, and François Pinault’s private museums—the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana—in Venice.

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