Coronavirus in the Corridors of Power
Which politicians and senior officials have the coronavirus?
The coronavirus knows no borders, and no continent—except for Antarctica—has been spared. The virus has also made its way into the corridors of power, and scores of national and local politicians around the world have announced that they have contracted the bug. In Iran, at least a dozen current and former officials, politicians, and religious figures have died after contracting the virus.
One question is how many of them have been contracting it from each other. U.S. President Donald Trump raised eyebrows at a press conference on March 13, shaking hands and mingling with other members of the coronavirus task force despite having come into direct contact with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s press secretary, who tested positive for the virus. Experts advise against hand-shaking and recommend that people who have come into contact with people known to have the virus to self-quarantine for up to 14 days. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went into self-quarantine after his wife was found to have the coronavirus.
Here is a list of some of the world leaders, politicians, and senior officials who have contracted the virus. This list is updated every weekday, but, due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, it is not exhaustive.
[Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how it’s affecting countries around the world.]
Peter Dutton, above, Australian home affairs minister, was found to have the coronavirus after being admitted to a hospital. He had recently returned from Washington, where he met with Attorney General William Barr, Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, and other White House officials.
Susan McDonald, a senator from the Liberal National Party in Queensland, is the second federal official in Australia to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The third is Andrew Bragg, a senator of the Liberal Party of Australia from New South Wales, who traced his contraction of the coronavirus back to a wedding he attended on March 6 where at least six guests also tested positive. Bragg told Sky News he called multiple people to warn them when he found out he had the coronavirus, “All those people have been notified now. Very unpleasant phone calls to make.” Three other members of parliament he may have come into contact with have since quarantined themselves.
Fabio Wajngarten, above, the press secretary of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for the coronavirus just days after attending a dinner hosted by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The Brazilian president announced on March 13 that he had tested negative for the virus.
Augusto Heleno, Brazil’s national security advisor, announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for the coronavirus despite showing no symptoms.
Davi Alcolumbre, the head of Brazil’s Senate, has also tested positive for coronavirus and has criticized the country’s President Jair Bolsonaro for his slow response to the pandemic. Bolsonaro has been slow to close public spaces and events, and he has accused the media of blowing the pandemic out of proportion, which has worried many in the country that the government will act too slowly to stop an outbreak.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for the coronavirus last week, shortly after returning from a trip to the United Kingdom. She and her husband went into a 14-day period of self-isolation.
Michel Barnier, above, the European Union’s chief negotiator for Brexit, announced via video message from his home in France that he has the COVID-19 respiratory illness that the coronavirus has been known to cause. Barnier last met the British Brexit negotiator, David Frost, in the first week of March, when the two attempted to reach an agreement on British-EU cooperation on everything from trade to security.
Minister of Culture Franck Riester, above, was diagnosed with the coronavirus earlier in March, becoming the first French government minister to contract the virus.
Brune Poirson, the secretary of state to the minister of ecological and inclusive transition, has tested positive for coronavirus.
Several lawmakers from the French National Assembly have also contracted the virus.
The politician Friedrich Merz, one of the leading candidates to take up the helm of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party, has tested positive for the coronavirus. In a statement posted on Twitter, Merz said that his symptoms were mild to moderate.
Iran has been one of the countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus, and the virus has spread rapidly among the country’s political elite and religious figures. According to the Jerusalem Post, at least 24 members of parliament have contracted the virus, and two have died: Fatemeh Rahbar, from Tehran, and Mohammad Ali Ramezani, from Gilan.
Others reported to have contracted the virus, according to the United States Institute for Peace, include:
• Iraj Harirchi, deputy health minister
• Masoumeh Ebtekar, vice president for women and family affairs
• Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign-policy advisor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
• Fatemeh Rahbar, member of parliament, Tehran
• Mohammad Ali Ramezani, member of parliament, Gilan
• Mojtaba Rahmanzadeh, local mayor of Tehran’s District 13
• Mahmoud Sadeghi, member of parliament, Tehran
• Mohammad Reza Ghadir, director of Qom’s state medical university and head of coronavirus management in the city
• Pirhossein Kolivand, director of Iran’s emergency medical services
• Eshaq Jahangiri, above, first vice president
• Ismail Najjar, chief of Iran’s Crisis Management Organization
• Mostafa Pourmohammadi, former minister of justice and minister of the interior
• Reza Rahmani, Minister of Industry, Mines and Business (has since recovered from the virus)
• Ali Asghar Mounesan, minister of cultural heritage, handicrafts, and tourism
• Reza Salehi Amiri, president of the National Olympic Committee of Iran
• Mojtaba Zonnour, chairman of parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee
• Masoumeh Aghapour Alishahi, member of parliament from East Azerbaijan province
• Zohreh Elahian, member of parliament from Tehran
Jeremy Issacharoff, above, Israel’s ambassador to Germany, tested positive for the coronavirus and according to Al Jazeera was reported to have contracted the virus after a meeting with a deputy from the German legislature. The deputy’s name has not been revealed yet.
Nicola Zingaretti, above, the head of the Italian Democratic Party, which is part of the ruling coalition, became the first leading politician in Italy to test positive for the virus.
Roberto Stella, the president of the Order of Doctors in Varese in the Lombardy region, the epicenter of Italy’s outbreak, died at age 67 of respiratory failure after contracting the coronavirus.
Giorgio Valoti, the mayor of Cene, a municipality in Italy’s most affected region of Lombardy, died at age 70 on March 13 from complications due to the coronavirus.
The Palace of Monaco has announced March 19 that Prince Albert, the country’s reigning monarch, has tested positive for the coronavirus. 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.
Torbjorn Roe Isaksen, above, the Norwegian minister of labor and social inclusion, tested positive for the coronavirus after his deputy was confirmed as having the virus.
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, a member of the Senate of the Philippines, became the first Filipino official to test positive for the coronavirus on March 16.
Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, the general commander of Poland’s armed forces, tested positive for the coronavirus after returning from a military conference in Germany, which was also attended by top U.S. Army Europe leaders. He is now in self-isolation.
Michal Wos, Poland’s environment minister, announced in a tweet that he had tested positive for coronavirus.
Begoña Gómez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now quarantining with her husband in their residence in La Moncloa Palace in Madrid.
Irene Montero, Spain’s equality minister, was the first of Spain’s cabinet to test positive for the coronavirus and has been quarantined along with her partner Pablo Iglesias, deputy prime minister and leader of the Podemos party.
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, Politico reported. Santiago Abascal, the leader of the Vox party, also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Quim Torra, the leader of the Spanish region of Catalonia, announced on Monday that he had contracted the virus and was going to self-isolate in a government building.
Pere Aragones, the Catalan deputy head of the government, announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus one day before Torra confirmed he had COVID-19.
Serhiy Shakhov, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, became the first public figure in the country to announce that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. While he initially denied he had it on March 18, two hours later he posted a video on Facebook announcing that he had contracted it.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, above, announced on March 27 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, making him the first major world leader to contract the virus. In a video posted to Twitter, Johnson said he was tested after experiencing mild symptoms and would continue to lead the country’s response in the fight against the coronavirus, working from home in self-isolation.
Prince Charles the next in line to the British throne, has tested positive for the coronavirus and is now self-isolating with his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall—who has tested negative—in Scotland. It is unclear how he contracted the virus, because he attended a high number of engagements in recent weeks. According to the New York Times, officials at the palace said that the last time he met with his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, was on March 12, and the earliest he could have contracted the virus was the day after.
Health Minister Nadine Dorries became the first British politician to contract the coronavirus. A test later revealed that Dorries had passed on the virus to her 84-year-old mother.
David Beasley, the executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, announced on March 19 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, five days after he began exhibiting symptoms and self-quarantined himself. He is now working to notify those he may have been in contact with and plans to continue to work remotely from his home in South Carolina while in self-isolation.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, above, became the first U.S. senator to test positive for the coronavirus. Other senators and aides have expressed anger at Paul for not self-quarantining sooner after he continued to interact with other U.S. lawmakers despite having attending a black-tie event two weeks earlier in Louisville, Kentucky, of which several attendees have since tested positive.
Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart announced March 18 that he tested positive for the coronavirus, becoming the first member of the U.S. Congress to contract COVID-19. Later in the day, U.S. Rep. Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat, announced that he too had a confirmed diagnosis. Both members noticed symptoms on March 15 shortly after they attended a vote on the House floor, a session in which 400 other members of Congress are noted to have attended. Both had been in self-quarantine since then, Diaz-Balart in Washington and McAdams in Utah.
Two members of the New York State Assembly, Helene Weinstein and Charles Barron, have both tested positive for the coronavirus, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The state’s capitol building and legislative offices were closed for a deep cleaning after the pair were diagnosed.
State Sen. Brandon Beach from Georgia began feeling symptoms of the coronavirus as early as March 10 and has since announced that he tested positive for the virus. His diagnosis caused Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston to call on all 236 Georgia state lawmakers to quarantine themselves after it was revealed that Beach had attended a special legislative session on March 15 while exhibiting symptoms.
Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez tested positive for the coronavirus late last week, and he has been video blogging about his experience on Twitter. His immediate family has tested negative for the virus, according to the South Florida radio station WLRN.
Darcy Palder is an intern at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @DPalder