According to the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin is in isolation after members of his inner circle fell ill with the coronavirus, although the leader has tested negative for COVID-19.
After the Kremlin stated he was “absolutely” well and did not have the ailment himself, the Russian leader presented the situation to a government meeting via video conference on Tuesday.
Putin, who is fully vaccinated against Russia’s Sputnik V, conducted multiple public appearances indoors on Monday, the majority of which were indoors and where no one appeared to be wearing masks based on visuals on television.
He shook hands with Russian paralympic competitors and pinned medals on them, took part in military drills with other dignitaries, and met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom he also shook hands with.
“It’s a natural experiment,” says Putin. “I have quite high levels of antibodies. Let’s see how that plays out in real life. I hope everything will be as it should be.”
Putin, 68, said he had to cancel a trip to Tajikistan this week for regional security meetings intended to focus on Afghanistan due to the circumstances, but that he would participate by video conference instead.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, told reporters on a daily conference call that Putin is “absolutely fine ” but that he had come into touch with someone who had contracted the illness.
“Definitely, yes,” Peskov responded when asked if Putin had tested negative for the virus.
Peskov did not specify which of the president’s connections had been affected, but he did state that there were multiple cases.
Russian officials have been chastised for downplaying the outbreak and rarely enacting control measures even as the number of cases and deaths rises.
With slightly around 800 deaths per day, Russia’s death toll is at its highest level since the outbreak began. Despite this, there are currently minimal viral controls in place.
Putin looked to work primarily from afar and was rarely seen in public until being immunised.
During his meeting with the Paralympians on Monday, Putin hinted that he was aware of situations involving those close to him.
“Even in my circle problems occur with this COVID,” the Russian leader was quoted by the state RIA Novosti news agency as saying. “We need to look into what’s really happening there. I think I may have to quarantine soon myself. A lot of people around [me] are sick.”
Putin was speaking “figuratively,” according to Peskov.
Peskov said without explaining that “no one’s health was endangered” at Monday’s events.