Ukrainian president, three top officials contract coronavirus

Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy meets with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Kyiv
FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy meets with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in Kyiv

By Pavel Polityuk and Natalia Zinets

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced on Monday he had tested positive for the coronavirus, and the finance minister, the defence minister and Zelensky's top aide were also reported to be infected.

"The head of state is feeling well and will continue to perform his duties remotely in self-isolation," Zelenskiy's office said in a statement.

"Despite all the quarantine measures, I also received a + (positive) result. I have 37.5, and I wish everyone 36.6!" Zelenskiy said in a Telegram message, referring to his body temperature.

Minutes after Zelenskiy's announcement, Andriy Yermak, head of the presidential office, said on Facebook that he had also tested positive for the virus.

Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko's office said he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and would work remotely. State news agency Ukrinform reported that Defence Minister Andriy Taran had also tested positive. The ministry was unavailable for comment.

On Thursday, Marchenko, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal and other ministers took part in a parliamentary session. Shmygal's office said he had no signs of the infection but would undergo a test on Tuesday.

The president's wife, Olena, contracted COVID-19 in June and spent several weeks in a hospital.

The daily tally of coronavirus infections in Ukraine spiked in late September and remained consistently high throughout October and early November, prompting the government to extend lockdown measures until the end of this year.

Shmygal said last week the number of new cases could jump to 15,000 a day by the end of November and to 20,000 daily by the end of the year.

Ukraine's health minister said last week the coronavirus situation in Ukraine was close to catastrophic and that the nation must prepare for the worst.

Zelenskiy said earlier on Monday Ukraine may introduce a lockdown at weekends in an effort to curb the pandemic, and such a move would not have a serious negative impact on the economy.

(Editing by Mark Heinrich)