'Dozens' in Kremlin have COVID, says Putin
Moscow, Sep 17: Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that dozens in his inner circle were diagnosed with COVID-19, and he was subsequently self-isolating.
Earlier this week, Putin, 68, cancelled all in-person events and said he was self-isolating after announcing an outbreak in the Kremlin.
"Cases of the coronavirus were detected in my inner circle. Not just one or two but several dozen people," Putin said, speaking via video link at a meeting of a Moscow-led security alliance. "And not I have to remain in self-isolation for a few days."
Putin had been set to attend the meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe in person, but said Tuesday he would join remotely instead.
It was previously unclear how big the outbreak was and how long Putin would remain isolated.
Putin 'in good health'
Putin has reported that he has had two shots of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, and the Kremlin said that Putin was in good health.
In order to keep Putin away from the virus, Kremlin visitors have had to pass through special disinfection tunnels, while journalists attending his events must undergo multiple PCR tests. Some people who he meets are also asked to quarantine beforehand and be tested.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday told reporters that the outbreak was mainly among members of Putin's security detail.
'Practically everyone' vaccinated
He added that "practically everybody" who works with Putin is vaccinated. While it remains unclear how long Putin will be in quarantine, Peskov said the president will be self-isolating for "at least" another week.
The news of the outbreak comes a day before parliamentary elections open on Friday in Russia.
Putin this week met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and athletes returning from the Tokyo Paralympic Games, just before the Kremlin said he was self-isolating.
According to the latest figures, the country has recorded more than seven million cases and 195,835 deaths, the highest death toll in Europe.