Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak has tested positive for the coronavirus, the country’s Prime Minister said on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, Alexander Valentinovich Novak has been taken ill with the coronavirus,” PM Mikhail Mishustin told a government meeting, the Interfax news agency reported.
Novak is the latest Russian official to have contracted the virus. The Ministers of Culture, Olga Lyubimova, of Construction, Vladimir Yakushev and of Science and Higher Education Minister Valery Falkov, as well as Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov have also been infected in the past months.
The Russian PM said that Novak learnt off the diagnosis after he arrived in Blagoveshchensk in Russia’s Far East, where he would participate in an OPEC meeting alongside other ministers. Several journalists accompanying the Minister have also been infected and were forced to return to Moscow.
“He arrived and he has left for Moscow. With all our hearts, we wish him a recovery,” said Mishustin, who had also been diagnosed with COVID-19 in April but has recovered since then.
A spokesperson by the Energy Ministry told TASS news agency that Novak doesn’t have any symptoms and feels well, while he will also take part in a meeting of the OPEC+ monitoring committee, set to be held on August 19.
Last week, Putin announced that Russia had registered the world’s first vaccine for COVID-19. The large-scale production of the vaccine called Sputnik V will begin in September, and mass vaccination is planned to start in October.
The announcement has sparked concerns over the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, as it skipped the long-lasting Phase 3 trials, with scientists and the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning against cutting corners and urging Kremlin to follow international guidelines for the vaccine production.