Extending Bed Capacity
Arsen Torosyan, the Health Minister said in a Facebook post that the Spitak Medical Center joined the fight against COVID-19, with 120 beds equipped with oxygen. The Minister also said that at the time of his visit, the medical center had already admitted six COVID-19 patients and was planning to admit several dozen more by the end of the day.
During the government session, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan presented the COVID-19 situation in the country. He said that 2,100 tests were conducted over the last 24 hours and the results of 593 tests came back positive. The situation in medical centers treating COVID-19 patients remains the same, most ICU beds are occupied. Over 650 infected patients are in critical or extremely critical condition, 44 patients are on ventilators. Torosyan noted that medical centers are continually expanding their capacity and being equipped with medical oxygen generating equipment. As of 9 a.m. today, eleven patients, who are currently at home, require hospitalization, another 80 patients are hospitalized but need to be transferred to specialized medical centers.
The Minister stressed that research suggests that anti-epidemic guidelines adopted by Armenia have demonstrated their efficiency in different parts of the world. Countries which require citizens to wear face masks and monitor compliance with the rules, gradually start seeing stabilization of the situation and overall improvement. Torosyan noted that the Government needs to keep enforcing the rules, introduced earlier, in order to overcome the pandemic.
Speaking about a possible vaccine for COVID-19, Torosyan noted that over 100 vaccines are being tested now and it is expected several of them will be used in the fight against coronavirus. Armenia is currently in negotiations with companies testing potential vaccines as well as the World Health Organization. According to some estimates, the vaccine will be available no sooner than at the end of 2020.
Gegham Gevorgyan, Chair of the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Activity, mentioned that the price of face masks has significantly decreased, primarily because Armenia also started production. He also noted that at this point Armenia has an excess of face masks, because a significant number of them were imported to Armenia about two months ago with a higher price, while the price of locally produced face masks is 60 AMD. Gevorgyan expressed hope that the situation will start stabilizing after a new batch of face masks will be imported to Armenia with a lower price. PM Pashinyan reminded that when the virus just started spreading, there was a global shortage of face masks and that Government decisions were aimed at ensuring that at least healthcare workers have access to face masks. The Government’s approach to wearing face masks has gradually changed as the supply and price started stabilizing. Pashinyan went on to say that because the supply and price of face masks in Armenia has already stabilized, the Government can start urging citizens to start wearing medical face masks [now the Government allows citizens to use reusable face masks]. He went on to say that the consumption rates of face masks shows that most Armenians are not using face masks produced at factories.
Pashinyan urged citizens to wear face masks for their own safety and for the safety of people around them. He stressed that the Government’s goal is not imposing fines but rather ensuring that people comply with the anti-epidemic rules.
Chief of Police, Vahe Ghazaryan reported that 2,827 administrative violations were filed on July 1 (1,198 in the capital Yerevan, while the remaining 1,629 in the regions). Most of the reports were filed because people were not wearing a face mask or did not have the required identification when outside. Artur Asoyan, the Head of Inspection Bodies’ Coordination Bureau, provided updates about the sanctions and fines imposed on businesses. He noted that on July 1 monitoring activities were conducted in 884 businesses and violations were reported in over 40 of them. Asoyan stressed that yesterday’s results show a positive dynamic because in the past several weeks, when inspection bodies conducted monitoring between 800 to 900 business entities, usually violations were reported in 60 to 70 of them.
PM Nikol Pashinyan urged everyone to follow the anti-epidemic guidelines, wear a face mask, regularly disinfect/wash hands, and maintain physical distancing. He went on to say that the efficiency of these rules have been proven and compliance with the guidelines is the only way to minimize the death toll.
Situation in Artsakh
The Ministry of Health of Artsakh reported six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 125, of which 24 are active cases and 101 have already recovered. The Ministry also reported that a new infection hub was detected in the capital Stepanakert, which is connected with the one case that was reported yesterday. To date, 1,982 tests have been conducted and 70 people are in isolation. All the infected patients are in stable condition.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 593 new cases of COVID-19 and 473 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 26,658, of which 11,010 are active cases and 15,036 have already recovered. Six COVID-19 patients died (the youngest aged 62 and the oldest 79), who all had pre-existing health conditions, bringing the total number of deaths to 459. Four other patients with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 153 such cases have been reported. To date, 115,765 tests have been conducted, of which 2,100 were in the last 24 hours.
Assistance From WHO (July 1)
The Health Ministry reported that Armenia received 10,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests from the World Health Organization (WHO) to support the country’s fight against the pandemic. The WHO acquired the tests with funding provided by the European Union. The new tests will allow Armenia to expand its testing capacity, test all suspected COVID-19 patients, detect the virus in time and monitor its spread. This approach is in line with WHO’s recommendations.
The WHO has guaranteed the accuracy of the test and results will be available within 75 minutes. With the new tests it will be possible to save a lot of time for healthcare workers, reduce human error and increase its daily testing capacity. The tests will be sent to the laboratory of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health, which conducts most of the diagnostic tests in Yerevan and the regions.