Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, informed state media on Tuesday that he had contracted the novel coronavirus. Peskov, 52, said the last time he had met with Putin in person was more than a month ago.
Russia’s prime minister, culture minister and construction minister have also tested positive for the virus. “I am receiving treatment,” Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS. Russia’s novel coronavirus caseload surpassed 230,000 on Tuesday to become the world’s second-largest, behind the United States, according to comparative data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Although Russia’s caseload has been rising by more than 10,000 per day for the past week, officials have noted a slight decline in the growth rate as regions seek to lift lockdown quarantine measures that have devastated the economy.
Putin, who has been working remotely for a month to avoid contracting the disease, announced this week that a nationwide non-working period intended to curb the infection rate would end on Tuesday. Putin has tasked regional officials with determining when to lift stricter quarantine restrictions at the local level.
Russian domestic economic activities have declined by one-third since late March, according to Federal Government statistics announced last week. Russia has been conducting about 170,000 coronavirus tests per day, Putin said in a video chat with senior officials on Monday.
Russia plans within the next two weeks to “practically double the number of tests, bring them to 300,000 per day,” Putin said in comments carried by state news agency TASS. Russia has conducted nearly six million coronavirus tests, according to a federal monitoring service that publishes daily statistics.
More than half of Russia’s confirmed cases, 120,000, have been in the capital and largest city, Moscow, which has lockdown quarantine measures in place until the end of this month, with residents warned to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
The pandemic has strained Russia’s health care system, with overcrowding at medical facilities throughout the country. (dpa/NAN)