Russian President Vladimir Putin says he expects to remain in self-isolation for several days after dozens of members of his inner circle tested positive for COVID-19.
Speaking via a video conference with leaders of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) who had gathered in Dushanbe for a summit on September 16, Putin said he wished "he could shake hands and embrace" the other leaders as he originally intended before being forced to self-isolate.
"You know, unfortunately, I had to cancel my trip to Dushanbe at the last moment, and I am sorry about that. But that is because, as you know, the coronavirus was discovered not just in one or two people, but in several dozens of people in [my] closest circle. So now I have to stay in self-isolation for several days," Putin said.
It was previously unclear how big the outbreak was and how long Putin would remain isolated.
It is not known which of Putin's close contacts tested positive for COVID-19, but Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on September 15 that the president is “absolutely healthy” and "of course" has tested negative for the illness.
Putin, 68, has described his self-quarantine as a "test" for the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, which he says he received several months ago.
CSTO members include Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, along with the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus, were being hosted by their Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon, in Dushanbe.