Emmanuel Macron sparked the fury of Twitter users after footage of a visit to a French high school was shared on social media. In the video, France’s president could be seen being caught up in a coughing fit while addressing the students before removing his face mask and coughing into his hand. French officials have long demanded citizens ensure they cough or sneeze into their elbow to avoid spreading the coronavirus should they touch something in the immediate aftermath.
Mr Macron cleaned his hands with sanitiser following the first fit before being handed a glass of water and removing his mask for the first time.
But after a second round of coughing, the President is seen removing his mask to again cough into his hand.
He then can be seen asking a nearby aide for a thinner mask before passing him his mic with the hand he coughed in to don the new mask.
Mr Macron then wore the new mask having retrieved the mic from the aide with the same hand, and continued to deliver his speech.
JUST IN: Boris sparks Brussels fury – landmark plan unveiled when EU ties fully cut
The French President later defended himself as he insisted he had recently submitted himself to COVID-19 tests after visiting a red zone the previous day.
Mr Macron said: “I think I chocked on a bit of this cloth mask.
“Like I’ve said, I’ve been following our own testing protocol. Yesterday, returning from a red zone, I underwent a PCR test which came back negative.
But with sharp rises in coronavirus cases across France, the footage sparked the ires of many French citizens across social media.
READ MORE: South China Sea tensions set to rocket as Taiwan plots alliance to strike back at Beijing
One user slammed Mr Macron for his “blunder”, writing on Twitter: “Clearly he didn’t follow.
“He coughed in his hand and held mic with same hand and later passed the same mic to the guy who offered him water and a new mask…Blunder!!”
Another said: “This is disturbing to see a president doing so during a pandemic, not to mention after such disaster already.”
Many users challenged the president after months of public awareness campaigning urging citizens to cough and sneeze in their elbow if not in their mask.
One user said: “What happened to #coughing into elbow?”
A Canadia doctor commented: “If @EmmanuelMacron were Albertan, he would require to self-isolate.
“And he would require to sanitize his hands after coughing in his hands rather than in his elbow.”
And another wrote: “It’s not like we’ve been told 30,000 times for the past six months we have to cough in our elbows…”
Some users also demanded Mr Macron be fined as all French citizens would should they be spotted in public removing their face coverings.
One user said: “Let’s hope that an agent witnessed the scene, and gave him a report of €135.”
And another added: “@EmmanuelMacron a €135 fine, come on!!! Like everyone!”