Putin self-isolates after coronavirus found in entourage

Russian president is not sick but will no longer hold in-person meetings this week, says Kremlin

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Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin said he received two jabs of the Russian Covid vaccine Sputnik V in March. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/APVladimir Putin said he received two jabs of the Russian Covid vaccine Sputnik V in March. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/AP

in Moscow

Vladimir Putin has gone into self-isolation because of an outbreak of coronavirus in his entourage, the Kremlin has announced.

Although the Russian president was not sick, a Kremlin spokesperson told journalists, he would cease holding in-person meetings and would not travel to Dushanbe this week for summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Collective Security Treaty Organization.

Putin last appeared in public on Monday afternoon. During a meeting with Russian Paralympic athletes, he said: “Even in my circle there are problems with Covid … I think that I may have to go into quarantine myself soon. A lot of people are sick [around me].”

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On Monday evening, he had talks with the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.

The Kremlin announced Putin’s self-isolation regime on Tuesday in a readout of a call with Emomali Rahmon, the president of Tajikistan.

“The president is absolutely healthy,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson, adding that Putin had taken a PCR test and had a negative result. “Of course we know who has fallen ill around the president. Isolation will not directly affect his work but there will be no in-person meetings for now.”

The Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, announced on Monday he would also skip the SCO meeting, which would have been the first major summit of regional leaders to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Russia experienced a new surge of coronavirus cases this summer after a vaccine drive failed to hit targets nationwide. The country is reporting nearly 18,000 new cases each day. Data released by Rosstat suggested nearly 64,000 excess deaths were recorded this July, as the Delta variant swept across the country.

Some prominent Russians have fallen ill in recent weeks, including Dmitry Kiselyov, a firebrand television presenter who was admitted to hospital last week with a severe case of coronavirus. He called on Russians to get vaccinated. Reuters reported that just over 30% of the country had received one dose of a domestically produced vaccine.

The Russian president has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid falling ill with coronavirus, disappearing from public view for weeks last year as the disease spread through Russia.

Covid deaths in Russia – graph

He said he received two jabs of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V in March. Although Putin is often photographed taking meetings or doing sport, the Kremlin declined to release photographs or video of him receiving the jab.

Despite claims he is vaccinated, visitors have still had to quarantine for up to two weeks in order to meet Putin personally. During the first surge of coronavirus infections, the Kremlin had also reportedly installed experimental “tunnels” that coated visitors in a disinfecting mist.

But at public gatherings, Putin usually appears without a mask and does not appear to practise social distancing. When he travelled to Geneva for a summit with the US president, Joe Biden, a team of Kremlin doctors tested journalists and others for coronavirus before the talks.

Putin said he would take part in meetings of the SCO and of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation this week by videoconference. A key topic of the summits would be the fall of the US-backed government in Afghanistan to the Taliban.


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