Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan:
- The COVID-19 situation in the country remains critical but there are hopes that the situation will start to stabilize;
- The Government strategy remains the same, people need to take individual responsibility and follow the anti-epidemic guidelines;
- Pashinyan urged citizens to continue following the three basic rules: wear a face mask, disinfect/wash hands and maintain physical distancing;
- Funeral services remain among the major sources for the spread of the virus and Pashinyan stressed the importance of organizing funerals and wedding ceremonies in accordance with the rules introduced by the Special Commission;
- Pashinyan urged all citizens organizing funerals or wedding ceremonies to cooperate with local self-government bodies and the Police, to achieve maximum efficiency in the implementation of anti-epidemic rules;
- The PM highlighted the role of those who raise public awareness about following the anti-epidemic regulations and urged those citizens to continue their activities.
Dr. Arsen Manukyan:
Arsen Manukyan is an ICU doctor who came to Armenia from Germany to work at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Medical Center and is working with patients in extremely critical condition.
“I work in a clinic in Bavaria as head anaesthesiologist and intensive therapy doctor. In March and April, the ICU units in Germany were filled with COVID patients. In May, the virus retreated slightly and I believe it was due to the heightened sense of personal responsibility of the population.
“At the end of May, I read the Armenian Health Minister’s announcement that Armenia is in need of specialists. My wife agreed to stay home alone with our 10-month-old son for an undetermined amount of time. After reaching an agreement with my employer, I bought a one way ticket to Yerevan and, on the day of my arrival, I joined the staff at the St. Gregory the Illuminator Hospital. The work carried out at the ICU unit of the hospital is hard to describe. The whole team is fighting death day and night, putting their own physical and psychological health on the line. Prevention is the only holistic solution to the pandemic.
“My son Levon will turn one on July 18 and I hope the virus will be retreating by then so I will be able to return to my family and be there for my son’s first birthday.”
Minister of Emergency Situations (MES) Feliks Tsolakyan:
– For the past several months, Armenia’s population has been fighting against COVID-19.
– Every person, by following the anti-epidemic regulations, can save a life and join our first responders, who have been working around the clock.
– MES has received 2264 calls regarding COVID-19 to the 911 emergency number
– Of those calls, 294 citizens were given relevant information; 973 received medical advice regarding COVID-19; 978 received psychological support.
– With regard to medical consultations, and the psychological impact of the lockdown, citizens can continue to receive psychological assistance and support.
– Taking into consideration how overloaded the MES 103 number and the Ministry of Health’s hotline was, on my orders, the number of doctors fielding calls and working 24/7 with MES was doubled.
– Citizens can call 911 for any issue around-the-clock, and MES doctors will provide medical consultations free of charge.
– MES is working closely with all state bodies and ministries; 34 MES doctors are working with the hotline set up by the Special Commission of the State of Emergency and, because of the demand, this number will quadruple in two days; 119 MES First Responders are working with the Police and the Ministry of Health making home visits to all those who are in quarantine; 20 First Responder Units are working throughout the country to raise awareness and inform the population of the safety guidelines; with the assistance of MES, almost 1000 people have been escorted to and from quarantine sites; over 47,000 sites (approximately 1000/day) have been disinfected with the assistance of 300 MES staff;
– As a state body, I want to stress that we continue to take all necessary precautions – daily disinfection of our buildings, taking the temperatures of staff three times a day, and all of this is taking place in parallel with the regular operations of MES staff.
– In the first five months of this year, we have had approximately 740,000 calls to our emergency number and taking into consideration that we are heading into a season which sees many fires, we expect the number of calls to increase.
– Thirty-five MES staff members have been infected with COVID-19 by their family members; 20 of them have recovered and already returned to their jobs; the remaining 15 continue to receive treatment; 82 staff are in quarantine.
– If any of MES staff are infected, there is automatic contact tracing done and all those who have come into contact have been quarantined; “This is why I stressed that our staff have been infected by their family members. We have not allowed the infection to spread within our ranks.”
– Tsolakyan urged the population to comply with the safety guidelines and said that if the citizens do not stand by the government, then the government will not be in a position to extend assistance.
A1 Plus news agency, Hermine Gharibyan: A month ago, when the number of confirmed cases was at 3,538, it was decided to extend the State of Emergency by 30 days. Now we have surpassed the 10,000 threshold. Does this mean the government plans to extend the SOE again, especially since it would be hard to impose wearing masks once SOE is lifted?
Nikol Pashinyan: We do not want to impose masks on people. We want to raise awareness and collaborate with the citizens in the fight against the virus. I think that, yes, the SOE will likely be extended.
Sputnik Armenia, Nane Martirosyan: During the past few days, several infected patients raised complaints about the quality of the services provided in polyclinics. Healthcare workers working in those polyclinics also raised concerns about being overloaded and not receiving bonuses. How would you evaluate the work of the polyclinics? Don’t you think that they should be under the supervision of the Ministry of Health rather than the Yerevan Municipality?
Nikol Pashinyan: Increasing the efficiency of the primary healthcare centers has been one of the major concerns in the healthcare sector since Armenia’s independence. It’s important to use the COVID-19 situation as an opportunity to invest in polyclinics and have a more diversified healthcare system. Although we receive complaints regarding the work of polyclinics, I hope that their efficiency will start to improve as we move forward.
About Recovery Rates
In a Facebook Live Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said he wanted to explain why the number of daily recovies has been low for several weeks and has been progressively increasing in recent days (352 recoviers in the last 24 hours as opposed to 10-20 recoveries per day a week ago).
Torosyan said that, since the country changed strategy in mid-May and the decision was made to no longer hospitalize asymptomatic or mildly-symptomatic COVID-19 patients, around 1000 patients were sent home and remained under mandatory self-isolation for two weeks. According to the Minister, during the 14 days that followed, only patients who had been treated in hospitals and recovered were accounted for as recoveries. In recent days, following the two week quarantine, patients who have waited out their 14-day quarantine at home are also being accounted for as recoveries.
Torosyan said the difference in numbers is due to a shift in strategy and not a breakthrough in the fight against the pandemic and does not mean people can be lax about following safety rules.
Torosyan also warned that the relatively low numbers of new COVID-19 cases in the last two days (350 today, 395 yesterday) were due to one of the main laboratories taking a prophylactic time off for disinfection. According to Torosyan, to deduce that the number of new cases is increasing, the data covering a longer time period is required.
Torosyan said the number of critical and extremely critical patients remained high but, thanks to the continuously expanding bed capacity, the Ministry continues to be able to provide the needed health services.
According to the Minister, an even larger number of recoveries is expected on June 10 and it will be mainly patients who have been at home and whose quarantine has expired and who are automatically considered as recovered after 14 days (and are not tested unless they develop symptoms and need hospitalization).
Situation in Artsakh
The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Artsakh reported five new cases of COVID-19. One of the patients had recently returned from Russia and has since been quarantined. The other four are family members of an existing patient. 15 new people have been quarantined, while 12 others were released from quarantine after testing negative. There are currently 77 people under quarantine.Ten patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recoveries to 41. To date, 1,192 tests have been conducted.
A day earlier, on June 8, President of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan announced that only people with documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result will be allowed to enter the Republic of Artsakh.
Harutyunyan said that, on average, 500-600 people enter the Republic’s border with Armenia on a daily basis. Taking into consideration the situation in Armenia, this flow of people is the main potential vector for the spread of the virus in Artsakh. Harutyunyan said it is this very same strategy that has warded off infection in the Defense Army, and that rapid tests will also be available for those wishing to enter Artsakh.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 350 new cases of COVID-19 and 352 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 13,675, of which 8,933 are active cases and 4,451 have already recovered. Six COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 46 and the oldest 83), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 217. Two other patients with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 74 such cases have been reported. To date, 71,405 tests have been conducted, of which 1,405 were in the last 24 hours.