Putin Tested Regularly For COVID-19, Controversially Resumes In-Person Meetings

Russia saw its single biggest one-day spike in COVID-19 cases Monday, at 954 new cases - amid a current total of 7,497 confirmed cases and 59 deaths - most centered in Moscow.

Despite the Russian capital by far seeing most cases, nearly all of Russia's 140 million plus citizens are currently in "home isolation" even though some regions have yet to see a single case in the geographically expansive country.

Meanwhile, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin is being tested regularly for COVID-19 after previously shaking hands with Moscow doctor Denis Protsenko, himself shortly after confirmed for the virus, which caused Putin to work remotely in isolation since the March 24 encounter. 

Image via EPA/TASS

Speaking of Putin, Peskov said, "[He gets tested] as often as his doctor sees fit," without going into details. "I do not deal with the matters of the president’s medical care," he added.

The response arose after Putin appeared to loosen up his self-isolation regimen, given on Monday top officials from the country's far east traveled to the Kremlin to meet with Putin in person

According to TASS, "Peskov noted that Putin’s decision to hold a meeting with Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev and Minister for the Development of the Far East and Arctic Alexander Kozlov at the Kremlin is not a violation of the self-isolation regime."

"Yes, he [Putin] did come to the Kremlin yesterday," Peskov said, while adding the president "does not visit public places and does not meet a large amount of people."

Putin's visit to a Moscow hospital March 24, via Sputnik.

Peskov emphasized this includes not only Putin himself being subject to regular tests, but anyone in his presence or who enters his office for a meeting. "All precautionary measures are being taken."

In a speech to the public outlining the extension of a national paid work stoppage on Monday, Putin said some less-impacted regions will be able to loosen policies as local conditions see fit. 

"There are regions where not a single case of the disease has been identified, although there are fewer of them as time goes on," noted Putin.

Moscow hospital director Denis Protsenko, later confirmed for coronavirus, shaking hands with the Russian president in late March, via TASS.

No doubt, Russian leaders are closely watching the condition of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who was moved to intensive care yesterday. Johnson is significantly younger (at 55) than the 67-year old Russian president.

"I would like to express my sincere support at this difficult moment for you," Putin was quoted as saying in a Tuesday message to Johnson. "I am sure that your energy, optimism and sense of humor will help to defeat the disease."