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Putin’s spokesman hospitalized with coronavirus

Dmitry Peskov, key aide to Russian president, treated in hospital as country’s infections spike; unclear if he was recently in contact with Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and as his press secretary Dmitry Peskov, right, at a press event in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2017. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and as his press secretary Dmitry Peskov, right, at a press event in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2017. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he is hospitalized with the coronavirus.

Peskov, a key aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, told the Interfax news agency on Tuesday, “Yes, I’ve gotten sick. I’m being treated.”

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

Russians who have the virus but show 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.

Reporters from the Kremlin pool said on Twitter that Peskov was last seen in public on April 30 “at a meeting with Vladimir Putin.” It was not clear whether it means 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.

Gravediggers wearing protective suits bury a COVID-19 victim as relatives and friends stand at a safe distance, in the coronavirus section of a cemetery in Kolpino, outside St. Petersburg, Russia, May 10, 2020. (AP/Dmitri Lovetsky)

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

Russia has reported more than 232,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,100 virus-related deaths, as of Tuesday. Hours before Putin made televised remarks Monday about ending the country’s partial economic lockdown, health officials reported a daily record of over 11,600 new cases.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin revealed on April 30 that he had tested positive for the virus and planned to self-isolate. Putin asked the prime minister to call him after checking into a hospital.

Mishustin’s spokesperson said Monday that the prime minister “continues to undergo treatment in one of the state-run medical facilities” and his health was improving, but gave no details about the severity of his condition.

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