Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: KREMLIN VIA REUTERS/SPUTNIK/ALEXEI DRUZHININ
Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: KREMLIN VIA REUTERS/SPUTNIK/ALEXEI DRUZHININ

Russian President Vladimir Putin will go into self-isolation after being exposed to several people in his entourage infected with Covid-19, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

The 68-year-old leader is “absolutely healthy” and has tested negative for Covid-19, Peskov told a regular conference call. Putin will avoid in-person meetings for “some time”, he said. Plans to fly to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, this week to attend regional summit meetings were cancelled and Putin will participate via video conference, he said.

Putin has eased once-strict restrictions on public events and meetings in recent months, following the announcement earlier in 2021 that he received Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against Covid-19.

On Monday, he conducted a full public schedule of in-person events, starting with a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and including celebrations with Paralympic athletes and a trip to a military training ground for manoeuvres. TV footage of the events showed no evidence of social distancing and very few participants wearing masks.

Putin said Monday he may have to quarantine because of rising cases among the people around him, according to a video published by Life.ru. 

“We need to figure out what is really happening with this Covid-19,” Putin told Paralympians as he signed their medals. “I probably will have to quarantine myself soon. We have a lot of people who are sick.”

Peskov denied that Putin put anyone at risk at the events Monday and said the decision to go into self-isolation was made only afterward. He declined to identify who had exposed the president or how long he plans to be in isolation.

Coronavirus deaths in Russia reached a record high in August, and they are still hovering around record daily rates. Authorities fear a northern hemisphere autumn rebound in infections, with only about a third of the population vaccinated.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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