As health officials issued warnings Tuesday against reopening economies too quickly, the coronavirus struck inside some of the world’s superpowers, with a top aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin diagnosed just days after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary also tested positive.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was hospitalized with the coronavirus, the latest in a series of setbacks for the Russian leader as the country struggles to contain the growing outbreak. The announcement of Peskov’s hospitalization came a day after Putin announced Monday that Russia was easing some of its nationwide lockdown restrictions.
Peskov is not the only top Russian government official to come down with the coronavirus. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin revealed April 30 that he had tested positive for the virus, as have two other government ministers. Last month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson landed in the hospital and has since recovered, underscoring the reach and spread of the virus.
There have been more than 4.2 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and more than 287,000 deaths. Russia has reported more than 232,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 2,100 virus-related deaths as of Tuesday, figures experts say are likely significant undercounts.
The climbing death tolls come as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, issued a warning that “the consequences could be really serious” if American cities and states reopen the U.S. economy too quickly. More than 80,000 people have died of the virus in the U.S.
More COVID-19 infections are inevitable as people again start gathering, but how prepared communities are to stamp out those sparks will determine how bad the rebound is, Fauci told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
If there is a rush to reopen without following guidelines, “my concern is we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks,” Fauci said.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the emergencies chief for the World Health Organization, said Germany and South Korea have good contact tracing that hopefully can detect and stop virus clusters before they get out of control. But he said other nations, which he did not name, have not effectively used investigators to contact people who test positive, track down their contacts and get them into quarantine before they can spread the virus.