Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin returned to his duties on Tuesday after recovering from the coronavirus, as officials said the crisis was easing despite total infections approaching 300,000.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree reinstating Mishustin as the head of government, nearly three weeks after the prime minister announced on television he had tested positive for coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin

Mishustin checked himself into hospital and his deputy was named interim prime minister, but he continued to participate in meetings via video-link wearing a suit and tie.

The 54-year-old former tax chief was appointed prime minister in a surprise government shake-up earlier this year but had little time to make an impact before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

After resuming his full duties, Mishustin appeared with other senior officials in a televised video-conference with Putin, who congratulated him on beating the virus.

“The last few tests, the doctors tell me, were negative, so you can get fully back to work, although you were already working despite the disease,” Putin said.

Mishustin’s reinstatement came after health officials reported 9,263 new infections in Russia over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 299,941, the second-highest after the United States.

He was just one of several Russian officials to have been infected, including the ministers of culture, education and construction, as well as Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Tuesday’s tally saw new cases fall below 10,000 for the fourth day in a row, after Monday’s count saw new infections under 9,000 for the first time since the beginning of May.

Putin repeated that the crisis was easing in Russia, telling officials: “In the last two-three days, even yesterday, the situation has been changing as needed, in the right direction.”

Authorities have credited a nationwide lockdown and widespread testing over the past two months for slowing the rate of new infections.

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