Cumulative Cases: 1159
Active Cases: 783
Second Delivery of Medical Supplies From China
Deputy Prime Minister and Warden of the Special Commission Tigran Avinyan said Armenia has received its second delivery of medical supplies and equipment from China, which includes:
-More than 87,000 protective medical uniforms
-24,000 medical masks
-20,000 KN95 protective masks
-101 remote reading thermometers
-Biochemical products needed for the preparation of COVID-19 tests.
Most of the supplies were acquired through funding by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), and through donations from Eduardo Eurnekian’s companies, the My Step Foundation, the Izmirlian Foundation, the Galust Gulbenkian Foundation, St. Sarkis Humanitarian Foundation, the Armenian General Benevolent Union and other donors. The special flight also delivered supplies purchased by the Armenian government and donations from Chinese benefactors.
Sanitary Requirements for Businesses
During a press conference, Ashot Harutyunyan, Head of the Health and Safety Department of Armenia’s Health and Labor Inspectorate, spoke about the sanitary requirements businesses that resumed their activities during the State of Emergence (SOE) must comply with to limit the transmission of COVID-19. These requirements were set by the March 31 decision of the Special Commission. According to the decision, access to a safe working environment is the constitutional right of every worker and companies should be guided by the following requirements:
– provide the necessary conditions for workers to regularly wash their hands
– make sure workers have access to water, soap, hand sanitizer, face masks and gloves
– make sure that those employees who are in direct contact with customers wear face masks
– ensure one faucet for every ten employees and trash cans with lids are available
– measure employees’ temperature at least twice daily, one of which should be done when the employees arrive at work
– use chlorine-based or alcohol-based (60-80 percent) disinfectants to disinfect the working space and frequently-touched surfaces and objects at least twice daily
– ensure that employees are at least two meters apart from one another
– employers must limit the number of business trips
– ensure that employees have designated lockers to keep their clothes
If an employee misses work because of a respiratory infection, then they should be excused. If an employee exhibits symptoms of an infectious disease in the workplace, the employer is required to notify the Ministry of Health, organize the isolation of the employee(s), identify the circle of people who came in contact with the employee and disinfect the area. If and when possible, the employer is also required to arrange for employees to work remotely, if the nature of their work allows. Harutyunyan explained that the rules also set specific regulations for organizing the remote work of those employees who are among vulnerable groups, such as those above 60 or those with chronic diseases. Employers are also required to offer flexible schedules to those employees who have a child under their care.
Harutyunyan clarified that, in line with the decision of the Special Commission, the Health and Labor Inspectorate has been tasked with monitoring those businesses that are permitted to operate during the SOE. Prior to monitoring, the Commission contacted them via email to inform them about the new requirements. To date, the Commission has monitored over 487 businesses in the country. Based on the assessment of the Commission and the registered violations, the activities of 55 businesses were temporarily suspended. Lack of faucets, cabinets and face masks were among the most common violations. Once the Special Commission decides to temporarily suspend the activities of a certain business enterprise, the police will oversee the enforcement of the decision. Harutyunyan also noted that, after violations are registered, the officers of the Commission work closely with the business entities to come up with solutions to registered issues.
Speaking about the enforcement of the rules, the Head of the Inspectorate stressed that each of them works to prevent the further spread of the virus and can easily be applied in all types of economic activities. While answering reporters’ questions, Harutyunyan said that two of the Commission’s employees have been infected with coronavirus; they are in stable condition. If violations of sanitary norms are registered, people can call the Health and Labor Inspectorate’s hotline (8107).
During a government session, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan said around 1,500 people have been released from quarantine. Torosyan said that about 300 people in quarantine have tested positive for COVID-19 and that this shows the effectiveness of the policy to quarantine people in subsequently curbing the spread of the virus. In the last 24 hours, 810 tests were carried out and, according to Torosyan, this is quite a high number of tests per capita when compared to other countries in the region or of a similar population size. The tests are conducted following doctors’ recommendations. The criteria for these recommendations are also being widened over time. On average, one in every 16 tests is positive. Currently, only half of the hospital beds reserved for coronavirus patients are in use and, according to the Minister, if the current trend is maintained, if people and employers follow the safety instructions, the situation will continue to remain manageable.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke about a recent incident in the town Norashen in the region of Ararat as an example of how fragile the current situation is and how fast Armenia can once again face a new wave of infections. A person in quarantine was allowed to attend the funeral of a family member. The person was accompanied by a police officer and a health specialist. Despite this precautionary measure, the person embraced several family members and two days after the funeral, this person tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the Special Commission has currently put the entire Norashen community under lockdown.
Pashinyan said there are important commemorations coming up and, if people let emotions be the driving force behind their actions, then Armenia will be faced with a catastrophe. If, as a result of April 24 commemorations, hundreds of people die, that would be no way to respect the memory of the victims of the Geonocide: “We have to learn to live under these conditions. We can’t stop the economy or ask people to continue to live under psychological and economic distress indefinitely. The government has managed to keep the situation under control but going forward the input of every single citizen is required to make sure the situation does not take a negative turn.”
Pashinyan said that, after some fluctuations, the prices of merchandise have stabilized. Armenia does not have and is not expecting to have any shortages. As a result of effective collaboration with Georgia and Russia, imports and exports are taking place as planned.
The government discussed and adopted the thirteenth social assistance program. The beneficiaries of this latest program are families who, as of April 2020, have been receiving social benefits. These beneficiaries will now receive additional assistance equivalent to 50 percent of their social benefit. Seventy percent of the sum will be transfered to the family with their social benefit for the month of April. Thirty percent of the sum will be transfered to the electricity company toward their next bill. If the beneficiary is not registered as an electricity consumer, that 30 percent will be transferred to them along with the rest of the sum.
Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Zaruhi Batoyan said the budget for the thirteenth assistance programs is 1.2 billion AMD.
Pashinyan said that there is much talk about unregistered workers, who survive on daily wages, being left out of assistance programs. According to the Prime Minister, the government has found a way to assist these people indirectly through several of the assistance programs, be it through assistance to their children, assistance in paying utilities, an addition to the social benefits to a member of their family or if they are expecting a child.
Reading the comments on his Facebook page, Pashinyan said that he sees a couple of issues that still need to be addressed:
– Many people are still not aware that they can be beneficiaries of certain assistance programs because the dissemination of the information is not adequate. Thereby the Prime Minister instructed a more comprehensive and wide-ranging information drive be implemented.
– The websites are not functioning well under heavy traffic as thousands of people log in. Pashinyan said the IT companies responsible for the website should have foreseen the issue.
The government also expanded the lists of beneficiaries to already existing assistance programs:
Assistance program N.8, whose beneficiaries are individuals who were employed in the spheres of hotel services, catering, tourism, beauty parlors and retail (except for grocery stores and pharmacies), was expanded to also include individuals who work in public transportation, preschool education, sports facilities (gyms, swimming pools), entertainment and leisure (cafes, children’s development centers).
Assistance program N.9, for families with a child aged 0-18 where both parents do not have a registered job, was expanded to also include families where the parent is a registered employee but is on leave to take care of a child younger than three years of age.
Update on Number of Cases
According to the Ministry of Health, 48 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total number to 1159. Also, 61 patients have recovered, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 358, and one COVID-19 patient, 73, who had severe pneumonia and several chronic diseases has died.
Situation in Artsakh
The Ministry of Health of Artsakh reported that, as of today, 10 citizens are isolated in medical centers. No new tests have been conducted and there are no new confirmed cases of COVID-19.