Conveying solidarity with “close friend,” Russia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has wished his Russian counterpart Mikhail Mishustin a speedy recovery after he tested positive for the novel coronavirus this week. Mr Mishustin has been spearheading the fight against the country’s COVID-19 pandemic that has infected some 100,000 people and killed over 1,000 to date.
“My best wishes to Russian PM Mishustin for early recovery and good health,” Mr Modi tweeted in Russian and English. “We stand with our close friend Russia in efforts to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.”Mr Mishustin has stepped down as prime minister while he recovers from the disease. Andrei Belousov, the First Deputy Premier, will serve as acting PM in his absence. Mr Belousov is an economist and a former aide of President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Mishustin informed about his health condition to President Putin on April 30 through a videoconference. While wishing him a speedy recovery, Mr Putin also agreed with the proposed replacement, said a news report.
Mr Mishustin is the first high-ranking Russian official to contract the virus and was one of the main coordinators of Russia’s response to the pandemic.
“I have found out that the coronavirus tests I had done returned with a positive result,” said Mr Mishustin. “I need to self-isolate, and follow doctors’ instructions. This is necessary for the safety of my colleagues,” he said.
Russia this week overtook China and Iran as the number of confirmed cases crossed the 100,000 mark after the 5841 new cases of the virus were registered overnight along with the record of a daily rise in the death toll. However, Russia has so far reported 1073 coronavirus-related deaths, a figure far fewer than many of the most hard-hit countries.
Russia, the world’s largest country by region, has been in lockdown since President Vladimir Putin announced the closure of most public places in late March. “The situation is still very difficult,” said Putin while addressing the nation on television. “We are facing a new and most intense stage in countering the epidemic.”
(Sanjeeb Baruah and Simran Nagpal contributed inputs for this article)
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