Putin in self-isolation due to COVID cases in inner circle

Tuesday, September 14, 2021
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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with members of Russian Government and heads of United Russia party via videoconference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021. AP PHOTO

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin entered self-isolation after people in his inner circle became infected with the coronavirus, the Kremlin said Tuesday, adding that the leader himself tested negative for COVID-19.

Putin, who is fully vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V, held several public engagements indoors Monday and even said that he may have to quarantine soon. An aide at the time sought to suggest he was speaking generally and insisted Tuesday that no one’s heath was endangered.

During a daily conference call with reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin, 68, is “absolutely healthy” but had come in contact with someone who contracted the virus. Asked if Putin tested negative for the virus, Peskov said “definitely, yes.”

Peskov didn’t say when Putin began self-isolating, when he tested negative, how long he would remain in selfisolation or who among the president’s contacts was infected.

During a videoconference with government officials and members of the ruling United Russia party, Putin said that several people in his “immediate circle” were infected with the virus, including a staff member who he was in close contact with throughout Monday.

That staffer was vaccinated and recently got “revaccinated,” Putin said, apparently referring to a third shot that Russia is offering people who were immunized more than six months ago.

“Three days after revaccination he fell ill,” Putin said. “We will see how Sputnik V really works.”

Even the most highly effective coronavirus vaccines in use don’t prevent all infections, but they reduce the risk of getting seriously sick or dying from COVID-19.

Russian authorities have been regularly criticized for underplaying the pandemic and for rarely imposing measures to control it even in the face of infection surges. Rus sia’s death toll is currently running at its highest level of the pandemic, with just under 800 fatalities a day. Nevertheless, hardly any virus restrictions are currently in place.

Putin has hardly ever worn a mask publicly, though he appeared to work largely remotely and was rarely seen in public for a period before he was vaccinated.

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