Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said 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. Since early in the outbreak, the Russian president has minimized meetings and switched to holding daily video calls with officials. First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov will temporarily perform Mishustin’s duties.
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.
Putin wished Mishustin a swift recovery and said he hoped the prime minister would continue taking part in drafting policies to shore up the Russian economy, which has been hurt by the virus pandemic. “What happened to you, could happen to anyone,” Putin said. “Along with other Cabinet members and colleagues from the presidential office, you have undoubtedly been in the zone of high risk.” “No matter how you limit contacts, it’s impossible to avoid communication with people while drafting decisions,” Putin said.