Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is self-isolating as a precaution after several members of his entourage fell ill with Covid-19.
But his Kremlin minders were quick to insist he is “absolutely” healthy and has not contracted the virus himself.
Still, Putin, 68, will not be going to Tajikistan this week for regional security meetings. He will instead take part via a video link.
Kremlin officials said Putin took the decision with doctors to self-isolate after he met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Kremlin on Monday. Putin also met Russian Paralympians and went to western Russia on Monday to observe joint military drills with Belarus.
The isolation move suggests a breach in the rigorous regime set up to keep Putin – 69 next month – healthy and away from anyone who could be carrying the coronavirus.
Visitors to the Kremlin have had to pass through special disinfection tunnels, Putin has had two shots of Russia’s flagship Sputnik V vaccine, journalists attending his events have to undergo multiple polymerase tests, and people he meets directly are asked to quarantine beforehand and be tested.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov revealed that Putin had been in touch with several people in his entourage who had fallen ill with Covid-19.
Asked if Putin had tested negative for Covid-19, Peskov responded: “Of course, yes. The president is absolutely healthy.”