A Russian medical doctor who shook president Putin’s hand last week has tested positive for coronavirus, the country’s primary hospital dealing with the outbreak announced.
Denis Protsenko, the chief of the Kommunarka hospital, was seen greeting Putin on Tuesday March 24. The two shook hands and walked together as Putin toured the hospital.
At one point during the tour, president Putin reportedly exchanged his suit for hazardous-material gear and also an Asics track suit.
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said “everything is fine” and reiterated that the Russian president was being regularly tested for the coronavirus, according to AFP.
Protsenko reportedly confirmed on his Facebook account that he tested positive and was self-quarantining himself to his office.
“I think the immunity I’ve developed this month is doing its job,” he said on Facebook, according to Reuters.
Protsenko, who frequently gives updates to the public on the country’s coronavirus response, has reportedly grown in notoriety amid the outbreak for his briefings. Roughly 2,337 cases and 17 deaths have been reported as of Tuesday, leading some experts to theorize the country may be underplaying the disease’s spread and severity.
According to a Russian scientist, the country could be facing an explosion in cases in the coming weeks, not unlike what has happened in Italy.
“I have the impression for the moment that we’re about three weeks behind Italy, approximately,” Aleksandr Chepurnov, a Novosibirsk-based virologist and Academy of Sciences medical professor, told Russian state TV on March 23. “And, in principle, you should understand that most likely, we will experience the same history.”
But president Putin said on March 18 that the “The situation is on the whole under control.” “Russia looks much better compared with other countries,” Putin said.
According to data by the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, Russia had 2,337 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 17 deaths as of Tuesday night March 31.