Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan:
- Armenia has not managed to address its strategic problem of the coronavirus pandemic, which is learning to live alongside the virus. Each of us, individually, has to organize their life in a way that minimizes the risk of getting infected and spreading the virus.
- The country keeps registering hundreds of new cases on a daily basis, which consequently increases the number of deaths registered daily. Fortunately, most of the infected patients do not exhibit symptoms of the virus and recover. But it is important to realize that every new confirmed case undermines somebody else’s chances of survival.
- Each of us has the power to decrease the number of deaths registered every day by following the anti-epidemic rules and not getting infected.
- Of the 10,900 active cases, 2,106 are hospitalized, 536 are in critical condition, 117 are in extremely critical condition and 1,730 have pneumonia.
- In the first five months of 2020, Armenia registered fewer deaths than in the same period of 2019. But as of June, these statistics have changed and Armenia has now registered 30% more deaths in 2020 than in 2019. Although coronavirus is not the only reason for the increase, it has played a role.
- The Government is still convinced that a change in individual behaviour is the only way for Armenia to overcome the pandemic with minimum economic losses.
- Over 2,697 reports on administrative violations were filed against those citizens who did not comply with the anti-epidemic guidelines (2,166 of which were filed for not wearing a face mask and 431 were filed for not following the rules in public transport).
- The current situation shows that the fight against the coronavirus has to be a priority for every single one of us and following the three simple rules should be part of our daily responsibilities. The rules are wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing and regularly washing/disinfecting hands.
Arayik Harutunyan, Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport:
- The joint university entrance exams will commence tomorrow, it was decided to hold one exam and oversee that all safety rules are followed.
- There will be 47 exam venues across Armenia, 17 of which are in Yerevan.
- The joint exams will take place on July 2, 4, 6 and 8, with July 6 being the most intensive day with the most applicants participating.
- We are calling on all family members and friends who usually accompany the applicants to the exam venue to refrain from coming and gathering outside. In case the applicant cannot reach the venue on their own, then there should be no more than one accompanying person who should leave the vicinity of the venue after dropping them off. \
- The Ministry is collaborating closely with the police to ensure compliance with safety measures.
- The Ministry of Emergency Situation is also collaborating with the Ministry to help safely organize the examinations and will be disinfecting the venues after each exam.
- Venues have been set up to ensure physical distancing, the temperature of the applicants will be taken upon arrival. There will be representatives from the Ministry Health and medical staff during the examination.
- The most important thing is to avoid any accumulation of people.
Arsen Arakelyan, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology:
- The Institute has started the production of PCR test kits for detecting coronavirus. Arakelyan clarified that the production of tests started on March 14, after the Institute received all the needed supplies.
- In the past month and a half, the Institute was primarily focused on improving the pre-production processes, conducting necessary laboratory testing, and producing a limited number of tests, which were sent to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention for testing.
- According to the results of the testing conducted by the Center, the accuracy of locally produced PCR tests is guaranteed and they are ready for mass production.
- The Institute is ready to produce between 2,000 to 2,500 tests every day and supply them to medical centers conducting testing upon the final confirmation by the Health Ministry.
- The Institute has been involved in the testing of a number of products which can be used in the fight against coronavirus. So far, the Institute tested the disinfecting equipment produced by the Yerevan Institute of Physics and the National Academy of Sciences.
- The Institute has also been conducting research into the molecular mechanisms of coronavirus and chemical substances which can later be used as a vaccine for COVID-19.
Lragir.am, Roza Hovhannisyan: To what extent do we in Armenia take into consideration the opinions of different professionals? In many developed countries there are advisory bodies working adjacent to the government, that are made up of professionals from different fields who have their input in managing the COVID-19 crisis. In some countries, the government makes decisions based on the recommendations of similar bodies.
Nikol Pashinyan: Most healthcare professionals are already integrated into the healthcare system. We have already had many meetings and consultations and have agreed that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Healthcare and Social Affairs will be the body gathering different proposals and passing it on to the Special Commission. But I also want to say that there is not much new in the world about COVID-19. The information available is openly communicated. You also know that there are groups of doctors coming from different countries and we are in constant communication with doctors from the Armenian diaspora. As such, today our issue is not to figure out what needs to be done, we have an issue with implementing the laws. All professionals unanimously state that people should wear masks, abide by physical distancing rules but still, every day, we find ourselves facing large and small crisis situations. We had a similar crisis yesterday with the Varks.am company after they sent out SMS messages to all their customers saying that if they pay part of their loan before June 30, they will be exempt from penalties and yesterday we had huge groups of people gathered at their offices.
Reading the international news today, I can say that this is a problem facing the whole world and it is not just an Armenian phenomenon as we had presumed. Just recently, during the online Eastern Partnership Summit, several European leaders mentioned fake news about the virus not being real as a problem in their countries. Many countries like the U.S. and Great Britain are dealing with picnics and parties.
H2 TV Station, Arpine Tamrazyan: From the very first day of the pandemic people in Armenia started buying and wearing masks, and if wearing masks is one of the main methods to halt the spread of the virus, as the government insists, then we could say that Armenia would have won the fight against the pandemic a long time ago if the Health Minister had not convinced citizens that masks are useless. Don’t you think that today the government is complaining about the behavior of citizens which was precipitated by the announcements and actions of the government? There is also a lack of information, are you planning to put together a team of doctors who would be able to provide answers to the public?
Nikol Pashinyan: Those opinions [masks not being effective] were not just voiced by Armenia’s Health Minister but by the number one organization responsible for global health, the World Health Organization (WHO). Initially masks were mandatory for patients and those who took care of them. This was what the WHO recommended. Then with further knowledge about the virus and changing circumstances, the approach now is to treat everyone as potentially infected. I had been infected for seven days before I got tested and learned I was positive. My temperature was checked every single day yet I tested positive without having had a high temperature for any stretch of time.
The other problem was that there were no masks available in the shops and our calls to wear masks would have not been reasonable. We had to suppress the use of masks to make sure that medical staff in hospitals had the necessary supply.
There are more than ten million infected in the world currently, let us assume the Ministry of Health initially made the wrong announcement, then who made the mistakes in the remaining countries of the world? We have the same issues as the rest of the world. Almost 70,000 jobs were lost in April in Armenia and we need to face this fact. Should we be waiting for 100, 300, even 500,000 people to lose their jobs as well? Should we have left them to die of hunger instead of COVID-19? As a result of our somewhat extreme action, around 50 thousand people returned to their jobs in May, and yes, it was the result of that very same strategy that the number of infections also started increasing. But we have set it as our goal to make sure that no citizen in need of treatment is left without healthcare. The healthcare capacity continues to expand in the country, the Spitak Hospital with 100 beds equipped with oxygen, will most likely open tomorrow. The Martuni Medical Center will open with 50 beds and the Medline Center with around 60 beds will be next.
Let us step outside the logic of political manipulation for a minute. Yes, we have 20,000 cases and it was my or our fault. Whose mistake was it that resulted in ten million cases in the world then? All the countries in the world, save around five countries who have beaten the pandemic, have made mistakes. If all were wrong that means all were in the same situation. Now we need to decide if we want things to get better or worse. You say we should listen to different professional opinions, there are doctors who say COVID-19 does not exist, other advise people not to wear masks should we listen to them? Even WHO representatives say there are no right or wrong decisions, all decisions yield partial results, are wrong and right in different aspects.
Healthcare Workers Infected With COVID-19
According to the Ministry of Health, as of June 26, 295 doctors and nurses, 96 orderlies have been infected with COVID-19. Twelve doctors, 20 nurses and six orderlies are currently hospitalized. Most of the cases were registered at medical centers based in Yerevan (63 doctors, 111 nurses and 78 orderlies) and the statistics show that nurses are at a greater risk of getting infected. Besides Yerevan, the regions of Kotayk, Shirak and Armavir have also reported a large number of infections among healthcare workers. To date, one healthcare worker has died of coronavirus. Another 93 doctors, 170 nurses and 90 orderlies are currently in isolation.
Assistance to Medics of Ambulance Service
The Tashir Charitable Foundation donated $300,000 to 1,786 medics working in the country’s Ambulance Service. Back in April, the Tashir Foundation also transferred $100,000 to the Hayastan All Armenian Fund, some of which was directed to support the government’s fight against the pandemic, while the rest was used to finance the transfer of Armenians from Russia.
Situation in Artsakh
The Ministry of Health of Artsakh reported one new case of COVID-19 and 14 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 119, of which 18 are active cases and 101 have already recovered. The Ministry also reported that a new infection hub was detected in the city of Shushi and that a group of citizens who came into contact with the infected patient have been isolated. To date, 1,961 tests have been conducted and 58 people are in isolation. All the infected patients are in stable condition.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 523 new cases of COVID-19 and 515 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 26,065, of which 10,900 are active cases and 14,563 have already recovered. Ten COVID-19 patients died (the youngest aged 62 and the oldest 83), who all had pre-existing health conditions, bringing the total number of deaths to 453. Two other patients with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 149 such cases have been reported. To date, 113,665 tests have been conducted, of which 1,821 were in the last 24 hours.
Aid From Japan
Armenia’s Minister of Economy Atom Janjughazyan and the Japanese Ambassador to Armenia Jun Yamada signed an exchange of notes for Japan’s Grant Aid, “Economic and Social Development Program.” As part of this program, the Japanese government will provide 400 million yen (about $3.7 million) to the Armenian government for the purchase of Japanese medical equipment. The goal of the program is to assist the Armenian government in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by helping to strengthen the country’s healthcare system. The statement said that a new generation of MRI machines and other medical equipment will improve the country’s healthcare services, alleviate some of the problems of the sector and help to save more lives.
Health Minister Arsen Torosyan expressed his gratitude for the assistance and said that the Armenian government values the continuous assistance provided by the Japanese government aimed at increasing the capacity of the Armenian healthcare sector.
Gagik Tsarukyan Tests Positive
Leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, Gagik Tsarukyan has tested positive for COVID-19. In a Facebook post, Tsarukyan wrote: “In fact, coronavirus does not bypass good people ))). Health to all infected people. God bless us all,” and uploaded a video of him saying a few months earlier that “good people” cannot be infected.
Patient Jumps Out of Hospital Window
Alina Nikoghosyan, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, said in a Facebook post that a 55-year-old COVID-19 patient, receiving treatment at the Artashat Medical Center, jumped out of a hospital window. The patient who was hospitalized on June 29, was immediately transferred to St. Gregory the Illuminator hospital with broken ribs and multiple fractures of lower extremities. The patient is in critical condition and under the supervision of doctors. The hospital informed law enforcement bodies about the incident.
Armenians Returned From Abroad
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, the Warden of the Special Commission, said in a Facebook post that since March 15, over 8,000 Armenian citizens, were transferred to Armenia from different parts of the world with the help of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Special Commission. The transfer of over 2,200 of citizens was organized free of charge and with the support of various benefactors. Armenian citizens returned from a number of countries, from the United States to Turkey, from India to Russia.
Overall, 40,000 Armenian citizens returned to Armenia with flights organized by the Special Commission. The Commission also organized four special flights from China to Armenia, which transferred medical supplies and equipment needed for the fight against the pandemic. Some of the supplies included ventilators, oxygen supply stations and concentrators, diagnostic tests, raw biochemical materials needed for the production of tests, personal protective equipment and face masks.
Armenia Not Included in the EUs “Safe List”
The European Union (EU) has published the list of fifteen countries, which can travel to the EU starting from July 1. Armenia, Russia, the United States, and Brazil are among the countries which will not be allowed to travel to EU countries. Georgia is the only post-Soviet country, which will not be affected by the travel ban. The “safe list” will be reviewed every two weeks and adjusted depending on the latest coronavirus developments in each country.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 415 new cases of COVID-19 and 751 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 25,542, of which 10,904 are active cases and 14,048 have already recovered. Ten COVID-19 patients died (the youngest aged 46 and the oldest 87), who all had pre-existing health conditions, bringing the total number of deaths to 443. Four other patients with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 147 such cases have been reported. To date, 111,844 tests have been conducted, of which 1,273 were in the last 24 hours.