Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has been diagnosed with coronavirus, he said during a video meeting with President Vladimir Putin broadcast on the state-run Rossiya 24 television channel Thursday.
Mishustin, 54, who was appointed prime minister in January, has played a leading role in Russia’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
He is now self-isolating in the hospital and has temporarily stepped back from his work as prime minister. Putin signed a decree to appoint First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov as acting prime minister.
“I have to observe self-isolation and follow orders of doctors. This is necessary to protect my colleagues,” he told Putin, promising to be in constant contact “on all the main issues.”
During the televised meeting, Putin said that what happened to Mishustin could happen to anyone. Putin then asked Mishustin to call him from the hospital.
Mishustin later told the Kommersant business daily that he has a high fever.
Everyone who has had face-to-face contact with Mishustin in the past few weeks will be isolated and tested for coronavirus, his press secretary told reporters.
Mishustin’s diagnosis comes as Russia’s number of coronavirus infections surpassed 100,000 in a record one-day surge.
Putin began working remotely at the start of April, a week after visiting Russia’s main coronavirus hospital in Moscow whose chief doctor tested positive for the deadly virus soon after the president’s visit.
According to a report by the Proekt investigative outlet published earlier this week, cabinet members and staffers who have direct contact with Mishustin are regularly tested for Covid-19. Other staffers are required to wear face masks.