Luxembourg PM hospitalized after positive COVID-19 test


BRUSSELS (AP) — Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel remained hospitalized and under observation for a second day Monday because he has been unable to shake a bout of COVID-19 that developed over a week ago.

A government official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said Bettel, 48, was suffering from coronavirus symptoms including coughing, headaches and a slight fever, but had not developed any life-threatening condition.

“The problem is that the symptoms have not fully disappeared over the past week,” the official said. Since he self-isolated last week, Bettel has continued to work remotely and through video conferences as much a possible.

He was taken in for 24 hours of testing and medical analysis on Sunday and those tests were still continuing Monday afternoon, the official said. It remained possible he might leave the hospital late Monday.

The European Union Commission indicated that Bettel was doing relatively well. “We understand – and we certainly hope – that it’s not serious, and it’s for checks,” said EU spokeswoman Dana Spinant.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she wished him “a very speedy recovery,” tweeting: “hope to see you soon in good health. In the meantime, rest and take good care of yourself.”

Bettel announced his positive test just after he had attended a European Union summit with 26 other leaders from the bloc for two days. At first, he experienced only mild symptoms. But on Sunday, he had to be hospitalized. Bettel had received one COVID-19 vaccine dose in May and had been scheduled to get his second AstraZeneca shot on July 1.

“It was unfortunate that he tested positive just before that,” the official said.

EU summit organizers said they were confident that all virus precaution measures had been strictly adhered to during the two-day meeting. So far, no other leader has said he or she tested positive.

EU leaders have been grappling with the dangers of transmitting the virus during one of their many meetings for over a year now. Most of their summits have been held through videoconference and only when essential issues were dealt with that needed long in-person negotiations did the leaders convene at EU headquarters.

Last summer, a four-day summit on the budget and COVID-19 recovery plans was held at the Europa building, but with maximum social distancing. Many of the toughest negotiating sessions were even held on a sundeck in open air atop the summit building to reduce the risk of transmission even further.

The two-day summit that ended 10 days ago dealt with a series of pressing issues, but much of the focus fell on a tussle between Hungary and most of the other EU nations on LGBT issues. Bettel, who is married to a man, took center stage in defending the rights of LGBT people.

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