March 13, 2020 / 10:28 AM / a month ago

Kremlin, worried by coronavirus, tells journalists who cover Putin to stay away if they feel unwell

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Friday told journalists who cover President Vladimir Putin to stay away from official events if they felt unwell as a precautionary measure to protect Kremlin staff from the coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the lower house of parliament to consider constitutional changes in Moscow, Russia March 10, 2020. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS/File photo

The Kremlin issued the plea a day after Russia’s lower house of parliament said it was disinfecting its chamber after a lawmaker ignored coronavirus quarantine to attend assembly sessions, including one where President Vladimir Putin gave a speech.

Moscow says it has officially recorded 34 cases of coronavirus and that nobody has died. Some doctors have questioned whether those figures are accurate however given what they say is the patchy nature of testing.

“I want to address all members of the Kremlin press pool (that covers Putin) and all journalists and editors ... who cover the president’s activities in the Kremlin,” said Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman.

“Be especially vigilant when it comes to any signs of coronavirus. If you simply feel unwell, please do not come to the Kremlin, do no take part in journalistic work in the Kremlin.”

Peskov said Putin’s own medical care arrangements were of an extraordinary high level and that he was working at full capacity as usual.

He declined to say whether Putin had taken a coronavirus test.

“Detailed information about the president’s health is not meant for wide publication,” said Peskov.

Commenting on the incident earlier this week when a lawmaker ignored Russia’s coronavirus self-isolation rules to attend a parliamentary session where Putin gave a speech, Peskov said he was confident that there was no risk to Putin’s own health.

“I’m convinced that the president did not have any contact with this lawmaker,” said Peskov.

Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Alexander Marrow, Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Andrew Osborn

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