Coronavirus in the Corridors of Power
Which Politicians and Senior Officials Have the Coronavirus?
Updated June 17, 2020, 10:29AM EDT
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.
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.
South Australian Sen. Rex Patrick became the fourth federal politician to test positive for the coronavirus. He was tested at one of Australia’s drive-thru clinics.
Belgian Prince Joachim tested positive for the coronavirus in Spain and was later criticized for attending a party that breached Spain’s pandemic regulations banning gatherings of 15 or more people. The Spanish police launched an investigation into the party.
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.
Bento Albuquerque, Brazil’s mines and energy minister, became the second Brazilian cabinet member to test positive for the coronavirus.
Four government ministers in Burkina Faso have tested positive for the coronavirus. Minister of Mines Oumarou Idani, Minister of Education Stanislas Ouaro, and Interior Minister Simeon Sawadogo all confirmed their diagnoses on Facebook. Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry announced on Twitter that he had been infected after media reports had speculated about his health, saying, “The rumour has become reality … I have just been notified that I have COVID-19.”
Rose Marie Compaoré, Burkina Faso’s first vice president of its National Assembly, became the country’s first reported death from COVID-19.
Denise Nkurunziza, the outgoing first lady of Burundi, was admitted to a Nairobi hospital with the coronavirus and was unable to be there when her husband, the longtime president of Burundi, died of a heart attack on June 8.
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.
Cem Özdemir, a member of the Bundestag and the chairman of the Committee on Transport, announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Amadou Salif Kébé, the chairperson of Guinea’s election body, was confirmed by the Independent National Electoral Commission to have died on April 17. According to the French online news portal Jeune Afrique, his death was due to COVID-19. The publication cited a person who said that Kébé had contracted the coronavirus during the country’s elections last month.
Sékou Kourouma, secretary-general of the government and a relative of President Alpha Condé, became the country’s second high-profile death related to the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Nuno Gomes Nabiam announced on Facebook on April 29 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and was quarantining himself at his home.
Three other government ministers were also reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus, including Interior Minister Botche Cande, Secretary of State for Regional Planning and Integration Mónica Buaro, and Secretary of State for Public Order Mario Fambe. The three ministers were immediately quarantined at a hotel in the country’s capital of Bissau. The prime minister also said that multiple members of the inter-ministerial coronavirus committee had also tested positive.
In a televised statement, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández announced that he and his wife, Ana García—who tested positive but was asymptomatic—had been diagnosed with the coronavirus. It was determined that he could continue to work remotely.
Sanjay Jha, the national spokesperson for the Indian National Congress party, announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, although he was asymptomatic.
Chintala Ramachandra Reddy, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the southern state of Telangana, was admitted to a hospital after displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
Jyotiraditya Scindia, a leader and candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, has tested positive for the coronavirus along with his mother, Madhavi Raje Scindia.
Ali Larijani, the then-speaker of the parliament of Iran, tested positive for the coronavirus in early April, becoming the most senior member of the Iranian parliament to do so.
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
The leader of the major Irish political party Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald, received a positive diagnosis for the coronavirus on April 14 after being tested in March 28. Earlier in the month, she had said that a pupil in her children’s school had contracted the coronavirus.
Yaakov Litzman, above, Israel’s health minister, tested positive for the coronavirus along with his wife and has forced the majority of Israel’s leaders who are heading the country’s struggle with the virus into quarantine. After he tested positive, an epidemiological investigation used his phone to track his recent location and find individuals he came into contact with and may have infected.
Jeremy Issacharoff, 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.
Abba Kyari, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, above, has caught the coronavirus, according to the Nigerian publication Sahara Reporters. The media reported that he contracted the virus after attending meetings in Germany and Egypt. UPDATE: The Nigerian President’s Office announced on April 18 that Kyari had died the previous day due to complications from the coronavirus.
Gov. Bala Mohammed, the leader of Nigeria’s Bauchi state, was also confirmed to have the coronavirus and to be in quarantine on March 24.
The public television station Télé Sahel reported that the minister of employment and labor, Mohamed Ben Omar, died from complications due to coronavirus on May 3.
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.
Mian Jamshed Uddin Kakakhel, a member of the provincial parliament in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, died of COVID-19 on June 3 just few days after testing positive for it with his son and entering intensive care in the capital, Islamabad.
On June 2, Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, a provincial minister for human settlement for the region of Sindh, died of COVID-19. Munir Orakzai, a member of the National Assembly, who had apparently recovered from COVID-19 in early May, died on June 2 of cardiac arrest.
On May 20, two provincial lawmakers died after testing positive for the coronavirus. Shaheen Raza, a provincial assembly member in the eastern Punjab province, died in the province’s capital of Lahore. Syed Fazal Agha, a former governor of Baluchistan and a member of the Baluchistan legislature, died in Karachi the same day.
The central secretary-general of the Awami National Party, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, began displaying symptoms of COVID-19 after attending the funeral for his brother, who had died after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Two members of Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaf party have announced that they have tested positive for the coronavirus. The first was Imran Ismail, the governor of Sindh. The second was Asad Qaiser, the current speaker of the National Assembly. Qaiser’s son and daughter are also reported to have caught the coronavirus.
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.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III became the second member of the Senate to test positive for the coronavirus. He was denounced for breaching strict infection and containment protocols when he brought his wife to a hospital’s delivery room and entered the room itself.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara tested positive for the coronavirus in late March. A month later, it has been announced that he contracted the virus again after recovering from it initially.
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.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, above, became the highest-profile politician to test positive for the coronavirus in the country. Through decree, President Vladimir Putin appointed Andrey Belousov to the role in an acting capacity.
Construction and Housing Minister Vladimir Yakushev became the second member of the Russian cabinet to test positive for the coronavirus.
Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova became the third member of the cabinet to test positive for the coronavirus. She is continuing to participate in video calls with other officials from her home.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Russian state news agencies on May 12 that he had been hospitalized with the coronavirus. He said he last saw his boss over a month ago.
Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a senior royal and governor of Riyadh, was admitted to intensive care with the coronavirus. Several other members of the royal family were also reported to have been infected, which caused several hospitals to prepare as many as 500 beds for an expected influx of royals and those in their circle.
Khalif Mumin Tohow, the justice minister of Somalia’s autonomous Hirshabelle state, died on April 12, a day after he tested positive for the coronavirus. He became the second death in the country.
Abdiqani Mohamed Wa’ays, Somalia’s ambassador to Egypt, who also had diabetes, died after contracting the coronavirus in early May.
The Rev. Kenneth Meshoe and Steve Swart, the leader and whip, respectively, of the African Christian Democratic Party, tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a prayer breakfast with international visitors.
South Sudan’s Minister of Defense Angelina Teny and Vice President Riek Machar, who are married, have both tested positive for the coronavirus. Some of their bodyguards and other staff have also tested positive. Machar was also part of an anti-coronavirus task force.
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, Politicoreported. 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.
Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo tested positive for the coronavirus in a second test after previously testing negative.
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.
Matthew Hancock, Britain’s health secretary, announced on March 27 that he had contracted the coronavirus.
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 a former intern at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @DPalder
Amy Mackinnon is a national security and intelligence reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @ak_mack
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