Russian PM Stands Down After Contracting Coronavirus
Photo Credit: AFP
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Thursday announced he has tested positive for the coronavirus, as the country's number of confirmed cases surged past 100,000 after its largest daily increase.
In a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mishustin said he has to "observe self-isolation" to protect his colleagues, suggesting a temporary acting PM.
Putin swiftly signed a decree appointing First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov as a temporary replacement.
The president assured Mishustin that contracting COVID-19 "can happen to anyone" and that no major decisions would be taken without his input.
"I hope that you stay able to work," Putin told Mishustin, who is the highest Russian official to become infected.
"Call me as soon as you arrive to the hospital," said Putin, who appointed Mishustin in a surprise decision in January, picking the formerly obscure tax service chief to replace longtime premier Dmitry Medvedev.
Putin has not held any face-to-face meetings for weeks, according to the Kremlin website, and was last shown in the same room as Mishustin on March 24.