The Russian Prime Minister, the man in charge of Russia’s response to the pandemic, says he has tested positive for the virus.
Russia on Friday reported a record daily rise in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus a day after Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced he had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and was temporarily stepping down to recover.
“It just became known that the coronavirus tests I took came back positive, so I must oblige by the self-isolation rules and it’s mandatory [that I do that] for the safety of my colleagues,” Mishustin said in a segment aired on Russia 24 state channel.
Mishustin told President Vladimir Putinduring a video call that he would self-isolate but planned to stay in touch on key policy issues. It wasn’t immediately clear when the two men last met.
Mishustin suggested that Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov should serve as acting prime minister in his absence. Putin supported his proposal and signed a decree appointing Belousov as a temporary replacement.
Mishustin, a 54-year old former tax chief, was named prime minister in January. During the video call, which was recorded and later televised, he didn’t say if he had COVID-19 symptoms or anything about his general condition. He displayed no visible signs of illness and spoke without difficulty.
During a video call, Putin voiced hope that Mishustin would continue taking part in drafting policies to shore up the Russian economy, which has been hurt by the virus pandemic.
“Call me as soon as you arrive at the hospital,” said Putin
In Russia, the prime minister oversees the economy and answers to the president.
After the announcement, Mikhail Mishustin called on Russians to treat the threat of infection seriously:
“We have May holidays coming up. I ask you to stay at home and respect all necessary restrictions. I’m sure we will be able to defeat this infection together and return to normal life.”
The country surpassed 100,000 confirmed cases earlier on Thursday, after announcing its highest single-day rise of 7,099 new infections.
Since the beginning of the pandemic 1,073 people have died in Russia, according to the country’s coronavirus response headquarters.