Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, sent to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, sent to hospital after testing positive for COVID-19

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson said Tuesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in hospital.

Dmitry Peskov told the Interfax news agency, “Yes, I’ve gotten sick. I’m being treated.”

The announcement came just a day after Putin said Russia was successful in slowing down infections and announced easing some of the nationwide lockdown restrictions.

Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced he had tested positive for the virus and needed to temporarily step aside.

Peskov, 52, has been Putin’s spokesperson since 2008, but started working him with in the early 2000s.

Russians who have the virus but light or no symptoms of illness are allowed to stay home, and it wasn’t immediately clear if Peskov’s hospitalization reflects the gravity of his condition or was an extra precaution.

Recent proximity to Putin unclear

Reporters from the Kremlin media pool said on Twitter that Peskov was last seen in public on April 30 “at a meeting with Vladimir Putin.” It wasn’t clear whether that meant the two were in the same room, as Putin has been conducting all his meetings via teleconference in recent weeks.

Since early in the outbreak, the Russian president minimized meetings and switched to holding daily video calls with cabinet members and aides.

Russia has reported more than 220,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2,009 deaths — numbers that international health officials say significantly undercount the true toll of Russia’s outbreak.

Hours before Putin made televised remarks Monday about ending the country’s partial economic lockdown, health officials reported a daily record of more than 11,600 new cases.

Deadly fire in St. Petersburg

Treating coronavirus patients has put a strain on the country’s vastly outdated health-care infrastructure.

On Tuesday morning, a fire at St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg killed five coronavirus patients who were on ventilators, Russian emergency officials said.

An investigator is seen through a broken window at the scene of a fire at St. George Hospital in St. Petersburg, Russia on Tuesday. The fire has killed five coronavirus patients. (Dmitry Lovetsky/The Associated Press)

The unnamed emergency officials spoke to the state Tass new agency.

The fire broke out in an intensive care unit and was put out within half an hour. It could have been caused by a faulty ventilator, the Interfax news agency reported, citing anonymous sources.

Police in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, have launched a criminal investigation into the fire.

It was not the first deadly fire in a coronavirus hospital in Russia. On Saturday, a fire in the Spasokukotsky Hospital in Moscow killed one patient.

Published at Tue, 12 May 2020 11:29:55 +0000