Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has told President Vladimir Putin that he has tested positive for the coronavirus, and has temporarily stepped back from his work as he begins a period of self isolation.
Speaking during a televised meeting, Mishustin recommended to Putin that First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov should become the acting Prime Minister for the duration of his absence, a proposal that Putin supported.
‘I have to observe self-isolation and follow orders of doctors. This is necessary to protect my colleagues,’ Mishustin told Putin during the conference call, and said that he would be in constant contact ‘on all the main issues.’
According to the Moscow Times, 54 year-old Mishustin has played a leading role in Russia’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He was appointed Prime Minister in January.
Following the news, Putin warned during a televised debate that what has happened to his Prime Minister could happen to anyone.
Another Russian news outlet, Proekt Investigative, said any Russian ministers who had come into contact with Mishustin are being regularly tested for the virus, while staffers are required to wear face masks.
Putin himself has been working remotely since the start of the month following a visit to Russia’s main coronavirus hospital in Moscow. The chief doctor at the hospital tested positive for the coronavirus soon after the president’s visit, according to the Moscow Times.
Meanwhile, Russia’s coronavirus death toll today reached 1,000 and its total number of cases broke through 100,000 today after another record day of new infections.
The 7,099 new cases – surpassing the previous high of 6,411 on Tuesday – bring the total from 99,399 to 106,498, the eighth-highest tally in the world.
The daily death toll was over 100 for the second day running, as 101 new deaths took the overall tally from 972 to 1,073.
Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia is entering ‘the most intense stage’ of the epidemic as medics report shortages of protective gear.