Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the Special Commission has discussed the course of future actions in detail: from a total lockdown to imposing a curfew to forbidding most kinds of economic activity. However the Prime Minister said he himself was not inclined to implement any of these scenarios before being assured that they will solve the problem. The assumption is that Armenia will reach its COVID-19 peak at the end of June, however Pashinyan said, there is no evidence substantiating this, noting that the peak can also be in October, December or even in February 2021.
The main solution that he envisages and continues to believe in is that the situation will change when people’s individual behavior changes. Even if by some miracle and through administrative solutions the virus retreats, the minute Armenia opens communication with the world, the situation will revert to what it is now, unless there is a change in behavior, said Pashinyan.
The Prime Minister called for a mass anti-pandemic movement in the country, where each citizen is not only responsible for their own behavior but also for those around them. The primary goal is to support the healthcare system, which is making miracles come true, bringing people back from the brink of death. The goal is not to exhaust the capacity of the health system.
I’m obliged to believe that the citizens of Armenia can turn mountains on their head by changing behavior, he said, because that is what ushered him into the position of Prime Minister. Although, today, there is no decision to return to a lockdown, “this does not mean we will not make that decision tomorrow.” He went on to say that as it has become apparent, “underground” weddings and parties will not stop under a lockdown with the same logic that they are taking place now and Armenia will again face the same problem but this time, causing irreversible, long-term damage to the country.
The situation continues to be dire and continues to worsen.
AysorDr. Davit Patrikyan: Former COVID-19 Patient
PM Pashinyan gave the floor to Dr. Davit Patrikyan, Head of the Department of Neurosurgery at Armenia Medical Center, who was infected with COVID-19 and was hospitalized for 15 days. As a 68-year-old patient, with pre-existing health conditions, Patrikyan was in the particularly vulnerable group. Some of his points were:
– It is important to take this virus seriously and remind young people that they can easily infect their older family members, for whom the infection can be fatal.
– He thanked the doctors for their work and urged citizens to unite, follow the guidelines set by the Government, stop questioning the rules and remember that we are at war.
– It is critical to follow three basic rules: wear face masks, maintain physical distancing, and regularly disinfect/wash hands.
– Compliance with the rules starting from now, will help us overcome the situation within three weeks, otherwise all the initiatives/actions of the government will be pointless.
– Assigning blame on each other will not help, collaboration is needed to fight the virus.
Artur Asoyan: Head of Inspection Bodies’ Coordination Bureau of the Prime Minister’s Office
PM Pashinyan gave the floor to Artur Asoyan:
-Following the safety rules is for everyone’s benefit and a matter of national security
-The inspection bodies have been monitoring border crossings and businesses and have also been involved in informing businesses as the regulations were amended by the Special Commission.
-More than 22,000 inspections have been conducted: 1490 businesses have been ordered to temporarily shut down.
-In the last 24 hours alone, 796 inspections were conducted and 220 businesses were shut down.
-Businesses that opened up only recently, like restaurants and public transportation are more likely to be fined than those who have been operating longer, meaning businesses have been responsive.
Other than the individual businesses should also change their behavior in order for armenia to overcome the pandemic
The inspectorates have been collaborating with the police organizing unannounced monitoring.
-Punitive measures have changed: Initially it was a six-hour shutdown, then 24 hours and now there are instances when businesses are shut down for 72 hours.
-Not only businesses monitored but all government institutions, medical centers and kindergartens are being monitored.
Aysor.am, Ani Vartanyan: A number of videos and photos that were sent as a response to your social surveillance initiative turned out to be outdated. You have also been publishing anonymous warnings about planned celebrations which are being negated. You are also publishing photos of people, which is being criticized. Given that you have said that we have a limited amount of days to stabilize the situation, is this an effective way of dealing with the situation?
PM Pashinyan: Each publication [of a photo/video] raises the alarm and if it turns out to be false, then better. One organization denied that they have a planned event but late last night, the same organization carried on with its plans. The issue has been discussed with the Data Protection Agency and many of these images have already been published publicly. In other instances, when a citizen broadcasts live a police officer arresting a citizen who has broken the law, no one asks why this is being broadcast without the consent of the citizen. With the same logic, the failures of the police are also broadcast. There is the issue of the protection of personal information and everything will be done to protect that information as much as possible. However, there is the matter of public interest, the matter of abiding by the law. We have seen the benefits of this social surveillance [“flash mob”] and we will continue doing so with certain adjustments.
RTV, Armine Khocharyan: Why are the numbers of recoveries in recent days considerably less and is the treatment used the most effective?
PM Pashinyan: The number of recoveries has declined because it was previously calculated in relation to the overall number of infected. Now only the recoveries of critical and extremely critical patients are calculated, patients who received treatment in the hospital. My family, for example, we are all infected and if the course of the infection proceeds to be asymptomatic, we will recover without any medical intervention. If that is the case, we will be counted in the number of cumulative cases but not in the recoveries index.
A Number of Staff at Kindergartens Test Positive
To date, 12 employees of kindergartens in Yerevan have been infected with COVID-19, according to the Press Secretary of Yerevan City Hall. As a reminder, state and private kindergartens were allowed to open on May 20. Eight cases were confirmed among staff while they were working in those kindergartens. All those who have come into contact with the infected people, including other staff members and children, have been quarantined.
A video of police trying to handcuff a man who refused to wear a mask was making the rounds on social media. In the video, several police officers are seen trying to subdue the man, who appeared to be resisting at first and then crying out that officers were hurting him.
The police, the Prime Minister and his spokesperson all made statements about the incident. Mane Gevorgyan, Pashinyan’s spokesperson wrote on her FB page that the police are obligated to ensure people are complying with the safety regulations and all those who do not follow the protocols are endangering not only their lives, but the lives and health of others: “The police will request that the rules are followed and in cases where they are met with refusal to do so, then the police will use proportional force. The Prime Minister has already demanded that the police be strict and tough on those who ignore their demands. To avoid such a scenario, we call on you to obey the anti-epidemic rules and the demands of the police.”
Update on the Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 596 new cases of COVID-19 and 45 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 11,817, of which 8,052 are active cases and 3,513 have already recovered. Sevan COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 33 and the oldest 78), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 183. One COVID-19 patient also died but the virus was not the cause of death; 69 such cases have been reported. To date, 65,161 tests have been conducted, of which 1,702 were in the last 24 hours.
Situation in Artsakh
The Health Ministry of the Artsakh Republic has said that three COVID-19 patients have recovered. To date, 57 people have tested positive for the virus, 31 of whom have already recovered; the health of the remaining 27 patients is considered stable. Sixty-nine people continue to remain in quarantine and 1131 tests have been conducted to date.
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