Russian Prime Minister says he tested positive for virus

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Thursday that he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, becoming the highest-ranking Russian official known to have gotten infected.

Mishustin told President Vladimir Putin during a video call that he would self-isolate but planned to stay in touch on key policy issues. It wasn’t immediately clear when the two men last met.

Since early in the outbreak, the Russian President has minimised meetings and switched to holding daily video calls with officials.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov will temporarily perform Mishustin’s duties.

Putin wished Mishustin a swift recovery and said he hoped the Prime Minister would continue taking part in drafting policies to shore up the Russian economy, which has been hurt by the virus pandemic.

“What happened to you, could happen to anyone,” Putin said. “Along with other Cabinet members and colleagues from the presidential office, you have undoubtedly been in the zone of high risk. No matter how you limit contacts, it’s impossible to avoid communication with people while drafting decisions,” Putin said.

He asked the Prime Minister to call him after checking into a hospital. Russians who have the virus but light or no symptoms of illness are allowed to stay home, and it was not immediately clear if Mishustin’s hospitalisation reflected the gravity of his condition or was an extra precaution.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. PHOTO: AP