COVID-19: Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin Tests Positive
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said Thursday that he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the highest-ranking Russian official known to have gotten infected.
Mishustin told President Vladimir Putin during 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.
His positive test came on the same day that Russia recorded a record 7,099 cases, taking the total number of infections above 100,000.
Mr Mishustin was given the role of prime minister in January and has been actively involved in Russia’s handling of the epidemic. Russian TV showed him telling President Vladimir Putin of his diagnosis.
“I have just learned that the test on the coronavirus I took was positive,” the prime minister said during the video call.
Mr Mishustin suggested that First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov should take his place and Mr Putin agreed. Mr Mishustin will now go into self-isolation.
“What’s happening to you can happen to anyone, and I’ve always been saying this,” Mr Putin told him. “You are a very active person. I would like to thank you for the work that has been done so far,” he said.
In Russia, the prime minister oversees the economy and answers to the president.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who leads a government panel tasked with managing Russia’s virus oubreak, said Mishustin had undergone regular testing for the virus and strictly observed safety protocols to avoid exposure or spreading the virus.
“It’s a signal to all of us – let’s drop all that populist talk” about lifting restrictions, Sobyanin said in televised comments.