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Russia's Prime Minister Says He Has Coronavirus, As Country Tops 100,000 Cases

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin says he's infected with the coronavirus, joining nearly 106,500 others in the country who have been similarly diagnosed.

Speaking during a videoconference with President Vladimir Putin that was broadcast Thursday on state-run Rossiya 24 television, Mishustin — who took over as prime minister from Dmitry Medvedev in January — told Putin that he had tested positive for the virus.

"It has just now became known that the coronavirus test I gave came back positive," Mishustin told Putin.

"I have to observe self-isolation and follow orders of doctors," he said. "This is necessary to protect my colleagues."

Mishustin, whose role as head of government is considerably less powerful than Putin's, nominated his deputy, Andrey Belousov, to take over as acting prime minister, a recommendation that Putin approved by decree.

The 54-year-old Mishustin, who has been a lead figure in handling Russia's response to COVID-19, said he would "maintain active contact" with Putin and other leaders "on all the main issues" during his self-quarantine, according to The Moscow Times.

Putin thanked the prime minister and acknowledged that becoming infected could happen to anyone.

Interviewed later by the business daily Kommersant, Mishustin said he was experiencing a high fever.

Russia has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with infections topping 100,000 on Thursday after a record single-day increase of 7,099 newly confirmed cases. More than 1,000 have died from the disease, according to official data.

The latest figures appear to run counter to pronouncements made by Putin in recent weeks that Russia was "slowing its spread" of the virus.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.