Russian President Vladimir Putin sported a yellow hazmat suit to inspect his country’s response to the ongoing Chinese coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.
Putin praised workers at the hospital in Moscow’s Kommunarka where suspected coronavirus patients are being treated.
Surrounded by staff, Putin jumped into the yellow hazmat suit, was fitted with a respirator, and put on a pair of protective plastic boots and blue gloves before personally visiting patients and doctors in a high-risk area of the hospital.
The Russian leader was then accompanied on his by the hospital’s head physician Denis Protsenko, informing him that he was impressed by the work they were doing.
“I watched them [the hospital staff] working, all of them are on duty,” Putin said following his inspection, according to Rossiya 24 television. “One can feel that people know what should be done and how. They have everything, they effectively use their equipment and means.”
“A completely different life begins for the people who are recovering. All that is largely thanks to you,” he later told hospital officials. “I know from my own experience that one has to be able to manage the work, and you have succeeded in doing so.”
According to state propaganda outlet Russia Today (RT), Protsenko explained to Putin that they are preparing for two separate scenarios. The first scenario is that the outbreak quickly reaches its peak before quickly subsiding; it may also follow Italy in experiencing a rapid explosion of cases.
Part of Russia’s preparation for the potential scenarios is to carry out 13,000 coronavirus tests in Moscow, as well as making 5,000 more beds available for patients over the coming weeks.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Russia had recorded 495 confirmed cases of the virus and zero fatalities, while 22 people have made a full recovery. The mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, who also serves as the deputy head of Russia’s coronavirus task force, warned on Tuesday that there may be many more cases than authorities believe and urged Putin to impose stricter measures as a matter of urgency.
“The testing volume is very low and nobody knows the real picture,” he explained in a meeting with senior officials. “We see quite a lot of people who are staying at home and just not getting tested — people who have returned from abroad. They’re feeling fine, thank God. In reality, there are far more people who are infected.”