COVID-19: Sick journos asked to stay away from Putin

Kremlin urges sick journalists to stay away from Putin due to coronavirus

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Credit: AFP Photo

The Kremlin on Friday asked journalists feeling unwell to stay away from events with President Vladimir Putin over fears of infecting Russia's leader with the coronavirus.

"I want to urge all members of the Kremlin press pool, chief editors of all media, journalists who cover the president's work at the Kremlin to be especially vigilant when it comes to any signs of the coronavirus," said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

"If you have a runny nose, if you cough, if you have chills...please do not come to the Kremlin. Do not take part in journalistic work in the Kremlin!"

He said Putin's schedule had not been affected by the spread of the coronavirus so far, adding that "the president is working full throttle, as always."

Peskov declined to say whether Putin had been tested for the coronavirus.

The 67-year-old Russian president made an unscheduled appearance in parliament this week where he stunned the establishment by backing legislation that would allow him to stay in power until 2036.

Follow live updates of coronavirus cases in India here

Putin visited the legislature after a lawmaker who had recently travelled to France ignored quarantine rules and attended parliamentary sessions. The lower house, the State Duma, said later it was disinfecting the chamber.

Peskov said he was sure the president "made no contact" with the lawmaker who did not quarantine.

Russia has reported 34 cases but no deaths from the coronavirus.

Peskov said that officials were doing everything to protect the Kremlin strongman without giving specifics.

"Detailed information about the president's health is not meant to be publicised widely," Peskov added.

The Russian strongman appears to be exceptionally conscious of risks to his health. Last year Putin brought his own mug to an official dinner at the G20 summit in Japan.

The Kremlin said in February it has begun checking the body temperature of officials and reporters attending events involving Putin due to coronavirus fears.

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