CORONAVIRUS

Putin Spokesman Hospitalized With COVID-19 As Cases Surge In Russia

Dmitry Peskov's illness comes as Russia overtakes Spain as the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases after the U.S.

As coronavirus cases continue to surge in Russia, another high-ranking Kremlin official has been stricken with COVID-19.

Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary and one of his closest aides, confirmed to state-run media on Tuesday that he had “fallen ill” with the virus. “I am receiving treatment,” he said.

Peskov’s wife, Tatyana Navka, a former Olympic ice dancing champion, said on Instagram that she too had contracted COVID-19. The couple were hospitalized, she said, adding that she was already on the mend.

Her husband’s situation was “more complicated” though under control, Navka said without elaboration. 

News of Peskov’s illness comes as Russia overtook Spain this week as the country with the highest number of COVID-19 cases after the United States. The country has reported over 230,000 confirmed infections to date and about 2,100 deaths. 

Among the sick were several top Kremlin officials including Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, as well as the heads of Russia’s construction and culture ministries.  The chief of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital, Denis Protsenko, and Putin’s first deputy chief of staff, Sergei Kiriyenko, have also tested positive for the disease.

Despite the rising number of cases, Putin — who has spent over a month mostly in isolation at his country residence outside Moscow — announced on Monday that Russia was ready to lift its partial economic lockdown.

“The nationwide nonworking regime is coming to an end,” Putin said in an address to the nation, AP reported. “Gradually, and very carefully, we are starting to ease the restrictions.”

He stressed, however, that Russia still has “a long and difficult process ahead of us with no room for mistakes.”

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