MOSCOW: Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Monday he had a high temperature and a bad cough, and that three of the 15 inmates in his Russian prison ward were being treated in hospital for tuberculosis.
Navalny, 44, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, declared a hunger strike last week to protest against what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to give him proper medical care for acute back and leg pain.
His allies said they would stage a rolling protest outside his prison from Tuesday unless he was examined by a doctor of his choice and given what they regard as proper medicine.
State media and some members of a prison monitoring group have accused him of faking his medical problems to keep himself in the public eye, something Navalny and his allies deny.
On Monday, Navalny said that a third person from his ward had been taken to hospital with tuberculosis, that he had a high temperature and cough, and joked darkly that catching the disease might offer him relief from his other ailments.
"If I have tuberculosis, then maybe it'll chase out the pain in my back and numbness in my legs. That'd be nice," he wrote on Instagram.
"I quote the official statistics of today's temperature measurement: "Navalny A.A., bad cough, temperature 38.1," he wrote in a post on Instagram, adding that he planned to continue his hunger strike.
A temperature above 38 degrees Celsius (100.58 degrees Fahrenheit) most often indicates a fever caused by an infection or illness.
Navalny's lawyers have visited him regularly in custody and have helped him continue to post messages on social media.
Authorities at the IK-2 corrective penal colony 100 km (60 miles) east of Moscow, where the opposition politician is being held, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about a tuberculosis outbreak or Navalny's temperature and cough.
They have said previously that his condition was satisfactory and that he has been provided with all necessary medical care.
Anastasiya Vasilyeva, a doctor and ally of Navalny, confirmed plans for a protest would take place on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Vladmir Soldatkin and Polina Nikolskaya; Editing by Timothy Heritage)