Wednesday, 30 November, 2022
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PM’s wife, ministers, officials — how coronavirus is travelling though corridors of power

From Canadian PM's wife to health minister in Britain to Spain's first family, the world's most powerful people are getting infected with the coronavirus.

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New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic has forced world leaders, cabinet ministers, key officials and advisers to not only facilitate a public health response, but also grapple with the possibility of being infected with COVID-19 themselves.

From Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family to a large number of Iranian ministers and officials, coronavirus has made its way into the corridors of power across the world. Several world leaders and their families either tested positive or are suspected to have COVID-19 and were subsequently put into quarantine.

Here’s a quick look around the world at the global leaders, officials and their families who have been quarantined because of the coronavirus disaster.


The country’s Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, tested positive for COVID-19 after he was admitted to hospital. Dutton had recently visited the US and held meetings with US Attorney General William Barr and US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka. The fact that he also held several meetings with Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has alarmed ministers and officials in Australia.

Two other Australian senators, the Liberal National Party’s Susan McDonald and the Liberal Party’s Andrew Bragg, have also tested positive. Bragg contracted the virus while he was attending a wedding on 6 March. Six more guests at the wedding also tested positive for COVID-19.


The risk of Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro contracting coronavirus became all too real after his press secretary Fabio Wajngarten tested positive for the disease. Wajngarten’s infection was detected just a couple of days after he attended a dinner at Donald Trump’s resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago. Soon after, Brazil’s National Security Advisor, Augusto Heleno, announced that he had also tested positive.


When the Canadian authorities announced that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau had tested positive for coronavirus, alarm bells rang through the entire system in fear that the prime minister himself might be infected. Sophie had contracted the virus during her trip to the UK, and after being detected, both she and the PM went into 14-day quarantine.

“Several other Canadian politicians who feel ill, including members of his cabinet and Jagmeet Singh, the leader of an opposition party, have also voluntarily quarantined themselves,” noted a report in the New York Times.


In the European Union (EU), Michael Barnier, the bloc’s key Brexit negotiator who had helped strike the withdrawal agreement with the UK, announced through a video message that he had tested positive. Meanwhile, the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, decided to self-quarantine after he returned from a trip to Italy.


In France, several lawmakers from the National Assembly have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The most prominent among them has been the country’s Minister of Culture Frank Riester and the Secretary of State to the Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Brune Poirson.


Chancellor Angela Merkel opted to put herself in quarantine after coming into contact with a doctor who has since tested positive. Friedrich Merz, the Christian Democratic party leader dubbed to replace Merkel next year, has also tested positive for coronavirus.


When it comes to the highest number of per capita infections among politicians and officials, Iran leads the pack by a wide margin. According to Israeli daily Jerusalem Post, more than 24 Iranian members of parliament have tested for COVID-19, of whom two, Fatemeh Rahbar and Mohammad Ali Ramezani, have died.

Many other officials and ministers, such as Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi, foreign-policy advisor to supreme leader Ali Akbar Velayati, and a local mayor of Tehran Mojtaba Rahmanzadeh, have all tested positive and put into quarantine.

Among these, Harirchi’s case got a great deal of media attention, not only because of the post he occupies, but also because he appeared on a series of public addresses and media interviews the day before he tested positive.


Italy, which now accounts for the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths, has also had several important public figures infected with the virus. Some of the prominent names have been Nicola Zingaretti, Roberto Stella and Giorgio Valoti.

Zingaretti, who heads the country’s Democratic Party and is part of the ruling coalition, recently tested positive. Meanwhile, Stella who was the President of the Order of Doctors in the region of Lombardy — the epicentre of coronavirus in Italy — died after contracting the virus. Valoti, the mayor of Cene in Lombardy, also died after being infected.


In Monaco, one of the richest countries in the world, reigning monarch Prince Albert was detected with coronavirus on 19 March. “In an address made the day before, the prince had announced total isolation in the country as an attempt to lessen the spread of COVID-19,” noted a report in Foreign Policy.


In Poland, there have been two very prominent cases of coronavirus. The country’s leading military general, Jaroslaw Mika, head of the Polish armed forces, tested positive after he returned from a meeting in Germany. Other than Mika, the country’s Environment Minister Michal Wos also tested positive.


In what is now the fourth most affected country in the world, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s wife Begoña Gómez tested positive for coronavirus, after which the couple have quarantined themselves at their residence at the La Moncloa Palace in Madrid.

Other than the first family, Equality Minister Irene Montero has also tested positive. Montero, along with her partner, Pablo Iglesias — Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and leader of PODEMOS party — have quarantined themselves.

“Javier Ortega Smith, the secretary-general of the far-right Vox party, tested positive on March 10, causing the lower house of the Spanish parliament to be suspended. All of the party’s members of parliament and their teams went into self-isolation,” noted Foreign Policy magazine. Additionally, Quim Torra, the leader of the Catalan region and Pere Aragones, the region’s Deputy Head of Government, have both tested positive.


Health Minister Nadine Dorries became the first British politician to test positive for COVID-19. It was later found that she had also passed on the infection to her 84-year-old mother.


The US has seen coronavirus spread at alarming rates. Many lawmakers, such as Florida’s Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and Utah Democrat Ben McAdams, have tested positive. Meanwhile, at the state level, New York assembly lawmakers such as Helene Weinstein and Charles Barron also tested positive.

Earlier, Rick Cotton, the head of New York’s Port Authority, “which operates the region’s major airports, bridges, tunnels and bus terminals”, too, was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

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