Russia PM tests positive for coronavirus, nation sees record spike in cases

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Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced he has tested positive for coronavirus, just as the country records its highest daily increase.

Mishustin revealed the diagnosis on Thursday during a video call with President Vladimir Putin. Putin wished Mishustin a swift recovery and said he hoped the prime minister would continue taking part in drafting policies to shore up the Russian economy, hurt by the virus pandemic.

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“What happened to you, could happen to anyone,” Putin said. “Along with other Cabinet members and colleagues from the presidential office, you have undoubtedly been in the zone of high risk.

“No matter how you limit contacts, it’s impossible to avoid communication with people while drafting decisions."

Putin moved early on to downplay the severity of the pandemic, even as Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin put his city under a lockdown. Despite his public statements, Putin moved early to switch to video meetings and limit personal interactions.

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On Friday, Russia announced its single-highest daily increase, rising by 7,933, bringing the total to 114,431 confirmed cases in the nation.

“It’s a signal to all of us -- let’s drop all that populist talk” about lifting restrictions, Sobyanin said in televised comments.

Mishustin made a public appeal following his diagnosis, imploring the Russian people to take the virus seriously.

"We have May holidays coming up,” he said. “I ask you to stay at home and respect all necessary restrictions. I'm sure we will be able to defeat this infection together and return to normal life."

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First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belusov will temporarily take over Mishustin’s duties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.