Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin is in self-isolation after people in his inner circle became infected with coronavirus
Putin, who was fully vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, held several public events on Monday and even said he may have to quarantine soon. A colleague at the time tried to suggest he was speaking generally and insisted on Tuesday that no life was in danger.
Peskov did not say when Putin began self-isolation, when he tested negative, how long he would remain in self-isolation or who among the president’s contacts was infected. He said that there are many cases.
Russian officials have regularly been criticized for underestimating the pandemic and implementing measures to control it even in the face of a surge in cases. The death toll in Russia is currently running at the highest level of the pandemic, with only 800 deaths a day. Still, hardly any virus restrictions are currently in place.
Putin rarely wore a mask in public, although he was seen working largely remotely before the vaccination.
On Monday, Putin attended several public events, most of which were indoors and where images on TV showed no one wearing a mask. He shook hands with Russian Paralympians and won medals at them, participated in military exercises with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other officials, and met Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose hand he also shook.
During the meeting with the Paralympians, Putin indicated that he was aware of matters close to him.
“Even in my circle there are problems with this COVID,” the Russian leader was quoted as saying by the state RIA Novosti news agency. “We need to see what is really happening out there. I think I may have to quarantine myself soon. There are a lot of people around me sick.”
Peskov later said that Putin was speaking “figuratively”.
Asked on Tuesday why Putin went ahead with public events, Peskov said the decision to self-isolate was made “after the doctors had completed their tests, their procedures”. Peskov spoke at Monday’s events without stating that “no one’s health was in danger”.
Russia’s daily coronavirus infections have fallen from 20,000 to nearly 17,000 in the past month – but experts have questioned how Russia is tallying up cases and deaths.
Despite the high caseload, Russia has struggled to get its citizens vaccinated, and its rates lag behind many other countries. As of Friday, only 32% of the population had received at least one shot of the coronavirus vaccine, and only 27% had been fully vaccinated.
It appears that despite the lack of restrictions in general, Putin has taken precautions to protect himself from infection. Peskov has confirmed media reports that those who meet with Putin in person or attend events with him have to undergo “rigorous testing” or quarantine ahead of time.
Follow AP’s pandemic coverage: