Russia’s top coronavirus doctor, who shook hands with Putin, tests positive
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Russia’s top coronavirus doctor, who shook hands with Putin, tests positive

Denis Protsenko’s infection comes a week after encounter with leader in Moscow; doctor says he’s feeling ‘quite well,’ as Kremlin says Putin’s health is fine

A picture taken on March 24, 2020 shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shaking hands with the head of Moscow's new hospital treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, Denis Protsenko, during his visit to Kommunarka hospital in Moscow. (Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP)
A picture taken on March 24, 2020 shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shaking hands with the head of Moscow's new hospital treating coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, Denis Protsenko, during his visit to Kommunarka hospital in Moscow. (Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP)

MOSCOW, Russia — The head of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital who met with Russian President Vladimir Putin a week ago said Tuesday that he had tested positive, as the Kremlin announced the leader’s health was fine.

Last Tuesday Denis Protsenko met with the Russian leader who inspected the Kommunarka hospital while wearing a bright yellow hazmat suit. But the 67-year-old Putin was also seen talking to Protsenko without any protective gear and even shaking hands with him.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov swiftly told Russian news agencies that Putin took regular tests and there was no reason to worry about his health.

“Everything is fine,” Peskov said.

Protsenko said he tested positive but “felt quite well.”

Posting a picture of himself wearing a mask and green scrubs on Facebook, he said he had self-isolated in his office and would continue to work.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with regional officials via tele link in his residence outside Moscow on March 30, 2020, amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. (Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev / SPUTNIK / AFP)

Protsenko has become a high-profile figure on the frontlines of Russia’s fight against COVID-19, posting daily on Facebook to inform Russians about his hospital’s work and patients.

Over the past 24 hours Russian authorities have reported 500 new cases — the biggest daily increase so far — bringing the total tally to 2,337 cases and 17 fatalities.

Most have been registered in Moscow, which has become the epicenter of the outbreak in Russia.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Kremlin has started measuring temperatures of people attending events with the president, asking journalists feeling unwell to stay home.

Observers say the Russian strongman appears to be exceptionally conscious of risks to his health.

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