Total number of people infected with COVID-19: 921
Total number of recovered: 138
Total number of deaths: 10
Number of Cases Expected to Double Every 10 Days
In a Facebook post, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan said Armenia has entered a new cycle where the number of cases will double every ten days. “If we sustain this trend, then we will have around 1,800 cases on April 19 and 3,600 cases on April 29,” wrote the Minister. The good news is that the numbers have been growing much more slowly in the last five days compared to the last ten days, wrote Torosyan, adding “this small and relative ‘accomplishment’ can vanish in thin air if we ‘let our guard down’ and go back to our normal way of life without abiding by the laws to prevent transmission of the virus.”
Two More Confirmed Cases in Artsakh
The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Artsakh has confirmed two more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infected to three.
One of the new cases is the daughter-in-law of the first person confirmed to have COVID-19 on April 7. She has been in self-isolation since April 2. However, she did vote in the March 31 elections in the village of Moshatagh, where she is officially registered. Taking this situation into consideration, experts from the Epidemiology and Hygiene Center of Artsakh’s Health Ministry have increased their services and residents of the village, at the urging of their representatives, have self-quarantined in their homes.
The other person who tested positive is a citizen of Armenia who had come from one of the infection hubs in Armenia. The Armenian citizen had been in self-isolation prior to testing and will be moved to Armenia in the near future.
Armenian Citizens in Turkey
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan said the Ministry has been able to arrange for the land transportation of Armenian citizens currently in Turkey. Naghdalyan said around 70 Armenian citizens have contacted the Ministry and expressed their wish to return. The Ministry has since arranged and financed their transportation to Armenia through Georgia. Naghdalyan said the process was coordinated with Turkish and Georgian representatives, whose help has been appreciated. Upon their return, everyone will be quarantined for 14 days.
Government Reports on Assistance Programs
During a press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan said the government currently has ten economic and social assistance packages, six of which are already in their full implementation phase. Grigoryan said they are working to finalize the seventh, eighth and ninth packages. The tenth package, offering assistance to small businesses, was just ratified today. Grigoryan said he is certain the package will enter its implementation phase very soon because the eligible beneficiaries are easily identifiable. Grigoryan said the seventh package will enter its implementation stage tomorrow, the eight and ninth packages starting Monday.
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Zaruhi Batoyan said the beneficiaries of the fourth and sixth programs already have access to the funding. Batoyan said citizens need to visit the ssa.am website, enter their data and find out if they can be beneficiaries of these programs. If confirmed, the website will also indicate which bank they can go to with an ID card and receive the one-time financial assistance. The beneficiaries of the seventh program can start receiving the assistance starting tomorrow. Around 3,750 pregnant women will be able to receive the one-time monetary state assistance as a start to the program. Batoyan said the list of the beneficiaries is constantly being updated, the ministry has received around 15,000 applications by pregnant women but the data still needs to be compared with the database at the State Population Registry and other databases before determining who can be considered a beneficiary. For the eighth and the ninth programs, the beneficiaries will be identified based on an application process.
Minister of Economy Tigran Khachatryan said that, to date, as part of the first assistance package, loans for the amount of 1.43 billion AMD have been approved, of which 520 million AMD has already been made available to the beneficiaries. As part of the second assistance package, loans in the amount of 1.1 billion AMD have been approved, 600 million AMD has already been made available to the beneficiaries. As part of the third package, the Ministry already has 27 applications, which it is currently considering.
During today’s Government session, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that some of the nine social and economic assistance programs initiated by the Government are in the implementation phase. So far, 3.67 billion AMD has been allocated for the implementation of the assistance programs, which according to Pashinayn is less than 10 percent of the resources that the state anticipates using. Pashinyan also noted that the government has already launched the webpage where citizens can learn more about the assistance programs and see if they are eligible. The webpage is being updated on a daily basis and will be fully finalized at the beginning of next week.
PM Pashinyan also said that, as of today, Armenian banks have granted loan repayment holidays to 290,000 citizens of Armenia in the amount of 9.3 billion AMD. Additionally, repayment holidays were also granted to 5,300 corporations in the amount of 15.4 billion AMD. Pashinyan noted that these decisions were made without any pressure from the government, which is an indication that the banking sector trusts the government and its assistance programs. He went on to say that the foreign exchange market and the banking system in general are in stable condition. There is also a growing trend of bank deposits. During the past several days, there were registered cases when deposits in dollars were replaced by deposits in AMD.
Speaking about the government’s response to COVID-19, the PM noted that his administration has a clear strategy on how to overcome this crisis and that the pandemic has not changed much in the government’s strategic vision of the country’s economic development. Speaking of the current COVID-19 situation in Armenia, Pashinyan said that 236 people were tested yesterday, with 28 testing positive, which means that Armenia continues to maintain the “cautious optimism” from earlier in the week. Pashinyan said that, during tomorrow’s session of the Special Commission, they will discuss which restrictions will still be necessary after Monday. Starting from tomorrow, the government will also increase its testing capacity; all medical workers and people with pneumonia or any other viruses will be tested for COVID-19.
Speaking about the number of confirmed cases, Pashinyan clarified that, since the outbreak of the pandemic, 12 confirmed cases were not included in the statistical data, and that today the number of cumulative confirmed cases stands at 921.
During the session, Davit Ananyan, Chair of the State Revenue Committee, presented the tenth assistance program introduced and adopted by the government. The beneficiaries of this program are all those citizens, who after January 1, 2020, are owners of micro-enterprises or small businesses. The program, however, is targeted specifically at three groups of micro-businesses:
1) Those who were owners of a family business in 2019;
2) Those who were not registered as individual entrepreneurs in 2019;
3) Those who are not owners of a family business or were not registered as sole proprietors in 2019, and applied for a micro-business license after January 1, 2020.
About 6,000 people are potential beneficiaries of the program, who will receive one time financial assistance amounting to 10 percent of revenue generated from sales of goods and provided services, between January 1 to April 1, 2020, up to a cap of double the minimum wage (136,000 AMD). Ananyan also said that one-time financial assistance in the amount of the minimum wage will be provided to those who, after January 1, 2020, are not owners of micro-businesses and are not sole proprietors, as well as those who as of April 1, 2020 have submitted a request to the Cash Register Introduction Office of the State Revenue Committee to receive a cash register but as of April 1 have not yet activated the cash register. At the same time, beneficiaries of the program are also those for whom the use of a cash register is not required and those whose request to receive a cash register has not been granted. Ananyan also clarified that beneficiaries of the program cannot be those who have two or more employees, since these people are already beneficiaries of the fifth assistance program.
Amendments were made to previously introduced assistance programs to ensure that people who are eligible for more than one program receive assistance from only one.
Gegham Gevorgyan, the Chairman of the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition, said that they continue to conduct daily monitoring at major supermarkets in Yerevan and the marzes. Gevorgyan said that the price of certain products that had increased in March has already started decreasing. The increase of product prices is between one to four percent and rapid increases have not yet been registered. Gevorgyan also said that the Committee compared the prices of certain products within the same period of time in 2018 and 2020 (sometimes the prices registered in the same supermarkets). For example, the price of one kilogram of sugar in February 2020 was 230 AMD and as of April 8 was 255 AMD. The price of sugar during the same period of 2018 was 338 AMD. Gevorgyan said that, with increased competition, the prices of certain products have decreased in general. All those who attempt to use the current state of emergency to unreasonably increase prices of certain products will be punished in accordance with the law. PM Pashinyan also urged that smaller markets outside Yerevan (not just the branches of major supermarkets) should also be monitored.
The following are the nine assistance programs available on the Armenian government’s website:
Assistance Program N.1
The first program is aimed at providing businesses with additional liquidity. This looks at the purpose of the expense the business has, not the sphere (import of raw material to maintain production, paying employees, paying taxes).
Beneficiary: Business owners (registered domestically) with good credit and tax record
Support type: Co-financing, refinancing, subsidy
Co-financing: Solves the problem of lack of collateral and improves other loan terms
Refinancing: Mitigates currency risk and improves other loan terms
Subsidy: Solves interest rate issues and improves other loan terms
The terms are valid for loans up to 250 million AMD.
Applications have to be filed with banks and credit organizations.
Assistance Program No. 2
Beneficiary: Business owner or individual (Armenian resident) with good credit and tax record, as well as cooperative farms
Support: Interest rate subsidies; in case of cooperatives – co-financing (including financial lease)
Basic terms and conditions: Valid for all types of agricultural activity
Applications have to be filed with banks and credit organizations.
Assistance Program No. 3
Beneficiary: Business owner (Armenian resident) with good credit and tax record
Form of assistance: Loans from 2.5 million to 50 million AMD, depending on the amount of turnover
Areas: processing industry, accommodation and catering, transportation and storage, tourism services, other services, healthcare
Annual turnover: 24 million to 500 million AMD in 2019
Quarterly turnover for 2019: Not less than 10% of the annual turnover
Maximum loan amount: 50 million AMD, interest rate for the first two years is 0% and 12% in the third year
Applications to be filed with the Investment Support Center of the Ministry of Economy
Assistance Program No. 4
Beneficiary: Family with a child under 14 years of age, where the parents or one parent has lost their job (officially registered) in the period from March 13 to 25, and neither parent is employed as of March 25
Support type: One-time support for each minor child in the amount of 100,000 AMD
Basic condition: Average monthly salary does not exceed 500,000 AMD during the two months prior to dismissal
There is no need to apply, the system automatically identifies beneficiaries and transfers the money.
Assistance Program No. 5
Target: Employment support
Beneficiary: Businesses with 2 to 50 employees
Potential beneficiaries: More than 12,000 businesses; one-time grant, in the amount of the salary of every fifth employee
Basic terms and conditions: From January 1 – April 1, 2020, the business had 2 to 50 employees and did not decrease salaries during the mentioned period.
There is no need to apply. The State Revenue Committee will work automatically
Assistance Program No. 6
Beneficiaries: Citizens who lost their job between March 13-30, 2020
Support: Lump-sum assistance in the amount of 68,000 AMD
Basic conditions: Availability of a registered job in the period from January 1 to March 13, 2020.
The average monthly salary did not exceed 500,000 drams in the two months prior to dismissal.
The beneficiary did not work in financial organizations or in gambling establishments.
There is no need to apply, the system decides the beneficiaries on its own and transfers the money.
Assistance Program No. 7
Beneficiary: Pregnant women who are unemployed as of March 30 and whose husband lost his job between March 13 – 30, or who does not have a husband
Support type: One-time assistance in the amount of 100,000 AMD
There is no need to apply. The system determines the beneficiaries on its own and transfers the money.
Assistance Program No. 8
Beneficiaries: Individuals who were employed in the spheres listed below or were self-employed on March 13-30, 2020.
– hotel services
– public catering services
– tourism services
– hairdressing and beauty salon services
– retail services (except for food and pharmacies)
Support type: Lump-sum assistance
50% of the average salary of an employee in January-February but not more than 136,000 AMD, if the employee has worked full time, then not less than 68,000 AMD
To individual entrepreneurs in the amount of 10% of the turnover of the 4th quarter of 2019, but not more than 136,000 AMD
Basic conditions: Average monthly salary did not exceed 500,000 AMD during the two months prior to dismissal
Assistance Program No. 9
Beneficiary: Family with a child aged 0-18, where both parents do not have a registered job
Support type: Lump-sum assistance for each child in the amount of 26,500 AMD
Basic conditions: Children and at least one of the parents reside in the Republic of Armenia, the family is not eligible for a family benefit; at least one of the parents did not have a job with a monthly salary of over 500,000 AMD before March 1, 2020.
Updates on Number of COVID-19 Cases
In a Facebook update, Ministry of Health spokesperson Alina Nikoghosyan said that there are 28 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Armenia, bringing the cumulative total to 921. Nikoghosyan also said that 12 cases confirmed in the last 40 days had not been included in the statistical data. “At the time, statistics were not being compiled through an electronic system; however, the system is now automated and there is no room for human error,” she wrote. Nikoghosyan also said an 80-year-old COVID-19 patient has passed away. The patient had pneumonia and suffered from preexisting health issues.
Medical Supplies & Equipment from China
A charter flight from China, carrying medical supplies and equipment donated by Armenian and Chinese benefactors, landed in Yerevan. The flight was organized and paid for by the Armenian government. The list of equipment includes:
– 120 ventilators
– Two oxygen supply stations
– 60,000 tests
– 60,000 medical masks
– 280,000 masks
– 20,000 protective glasses
– 100,000 protective medical gowns
Arriving in Armenia on the same charter flight were two Armenian citizens who had been sheltering at the Armenian Embassy in Beijing and will be placed in a 14-day quarantine.
EU Assistance to Armenia
The European Union to Armenia announced that, after further restructuring of their existing programs with the Armenian Government, the EU will provide €92 million to Armenia to support immediate and short-term needs. The funds will be directed toward supplying medical devices and equipment, training for medical and laboratory staff, support to SMEs and the business community, as well as social and humanitarian assistance to those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
U.S. Assistance to Armenia
The United States, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently provided a total of $6 million to support the agency’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak around the world – including in Armenia. U.S. funds will provide COVID-19 testing kits, and Armenia is receiving 2,000 tests.
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