Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan:
- The COVID-19 situation in the country remains critical; over 1,000 new cases were confirmed over the weekend and the healthcare sector remains to be overloaded. The situation, however, is critical in many parts of the world, even in countries which were thought to have taken the spread of the virus under control.
- Government’s strategy remains the same: We can overcome the situation only if citizens start changing their behaviour and cooperating with authorities. Imposing fines alone cannot help to change the situation.
- The most important problem is that citizens do not believe that individual behavioral change affects the overall situation in the country.
- There are still people in Armenia, who are not personally affected by the pandemic, meaning they do not know anyone who has been infected by the virus from their immediate circle.
- Pashinyan stressed that people should not wait until they personally are affected by the virus and only then take action. Instead they should start taking the current situation into account, which is that 491 people have died after battling the virus, and follow the anti-epidemic rules (maintain physical distancing, regularly wash/disinfect hands and correctly wear a face mask).
- Pashinyan thanked the Armenian Red Cross Society for taking initiative and placing over 30 stands across Yerevan, where volunteers are distributing face masks to citizens and informing them about the anti-epidemic rules. The PM expressed hope that other organizations will also take such initiatives because individual actions matter in overcoming the pandemic.
- Police continue monitoring compliance with the anti-epidemic rules and filing reports against those citizens who do not wear face masks. Pashinyan stressed that the Government’s goal is not to impose fines but rather encourage citizens to follow the regulations.
- The Government will be required to reimpose strict restrictions, if and when the healthcare sector reaches a point when it is no longer able to expand its capacity and provide support to all those patients who need treatment. Pashinyan expressed hope that people will realize the importance of the situation and that the Government will be able to avoid such a scenario.
Health Minister Arsen Torosyan:
- Over the weekend, there are about 1000 new confirmed cases of COVID-19; the situation is stable in the sense that consistently 30% of all tests are coming back positive, Torosyan said. While the stability could be seen as a good sign, i.e. there is no increase, however, this percentage is still too high. The Minister said that they are continuing their operations to ensure a drop in the numbers.
- Torosyan spoke about the capacity of hospitals and said that there are 2600 hospital beds, of which 2300 are regular beds which are equipped with oxygen generators and 300 are for patients in ICUs; while refraining from providing how many of those beds are currently occupied, he did note that ICU beds are almost at capacity.
- There are 650 patients in serious and critical condition combined; 47 patients are on ventilators.
- As of 3 p.m. today, there are no patients who are at home awaiting hospitalization; there are 20 patients in different medical centers/hospitals who need to be transferred to medical facilities handling COVID-19 patients.
- Speaking about the effectiveness of their actions, Torosyan said that even under this critical but stable condition, when we have about the same percentage of new cases daily, is thanks to anti-epidemic measures. He explained that these kinds of pandemics tend to spread exponentially and that this is not the case presently.
- Ensuring that everyone wears masks – even if there isn’t total compliance – has shown that this is an effective measure. If this was not in place, we would have many more confirmed cases than we do today. Torosyan thanked all those citizens who have been wearing face masks properly and by doing so prevented the death of dozens if not hundreds of people.
- He appealed to all those who have not been complying with the anti-epidemic measures of washing/disinfecting hands, maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks and said that these measures are effective.
- By doubling our efforts in this regard, Torosyan said that we will be able to slowly push back against the virus.
- While the healthcare system is still able to treat patients, the objective is to have fewer cases.
- In closing, Torosyan appealed to those citizens who are over the age of 60 and/or have chronic illnesses, to pay special attention to the three very simple rules of washing hands, physical distancing and wearing a mask. He added that all those who are not in the high-risk category, can infect those who are. He urged all those who are at risk to refrain from coming together in their courtyards, playing card games, to think of their health and added that the statistics are very clear – the healthcare system is not always able to save their lives. He asked them to minimize their contacts to only essential ones.
- Torosyan said these measures must become a part of our daily lives – just as we don’t leave our homes without our shoes, we must not leave without face masks.
News.am, Armine Gevorgyan: What are the Government’s main mistakes in the fight against coronavirus? Will responsible officials be held accountable?
Nikol Pashinyan: The issue of mistakes is one of the most widely circulated topics but I will elaborate on the logic behind the Government decisions. When Armenia lifted the national lockdown, we reported over 100 cases daily. But it is important to remember about the incubation period (varies between seven to fourteen days), which means that the number of people who were infected during the lockdown were reflected in the numbers of the following two weeks. We lifted the lockdown in circumstances when 72,000 jobs were lost in April. The Health Minister stressed that it is important to minimize the number of confirmed cases and only then reopen the economy, which is justifiable from the healthcare perspective. But the Government was challenged to maintain a balance between healthcare and economic concerns and not prioritize one over the other.
Our primary concern is to ensure that all those citizens who need treatment receive it and the initial lockdown helped the Government to expand its capacity and allocate the required number of beds for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. At the end of April, the Government was also challenged to ensure compliance with the restrictions of the lockdown because people gradually got used to coronavirus, the weather started to get warmer and ultimately people resumed their interactions with their neighbors. And our statistics came to confirm that smaller neighbourhoods is where the virus is rapidly spreading.
All those who have already started assessing the effectiveness of the Government’s COVID-19 response are in a hurry. We are dealing with an global problem and we cannot have individual solutions. Also, it is very likely that countries around the world will eventually end up in similar situations.
Haykakan Jamanak, Syuzanna Poghosyan: In one week, the State of Emergency will expire. It is obvious from the daily numbers that the causes of the spread of the virus have not been eliminated based upon which a SOE was declared on March 16 and extended for a third time on June 13. How do you assess the effectiveness of citizens’ compliance with the anti-epidemic rules? What did the newly created Task Force find out about the sources of disinformation spread about coronavirus? Will the SOE be extended for the fourth time?
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan: We understand that we can’t keep extending the State of Emergency but if everything continues as it has, then we will be obliged to extend it yet again. It is an issue for everyone but we cannot ignore the conditions of the pandemic. We will try, as much as possible, to find a balanced approach, but the facts are pointing to yet another extension of the State of Emergency. The biggest issue is uncertainty; today, the situation is relatively stable, but we have no guarantees that tomorrow, everything will not turn on its head. Every day at midnight we nervously wait to see how many new cases have been confirmed. Sadly, there are no guarantees that we might wake up one day and have 800-900 new cases. The only guarantee is our personal behavior and the belief that our behavior can impact the wellbeing of everyone. Even if we were to impose a total lockdown today, there is no way we can control or monitor what takes place in residential buildings, in courtyards. Even with the strictest fines, everything comes down to personal behavior.
Elderly Residents Recover From COVID-19
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs announced that all the elderly residents of the Nork Old Age Home who were reported to be infected with COVID-19 on May 16, have recovered and returned back to their normal life. The Ministry also said that considering the current situation, all the institutions working under its supervision, will continue minimizing contact with the outer world.
Volunteers Distribute Face Masks
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced in a Facebook post that as a result of the collaboration between the PM’s Office and the Armenian Red Cross Society, 36 stands were placed across Yerevan, where volunteers are distributing face masks to citizens and informing them about the anti-epidemic rules. Very soon, similar stands will be placed in the regions as well.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 330 new cases of COVID-19 and 162 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 28,936 of which 11,984 are active cases and 16,302 have already recovered. Seven COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 64 and the oldest 87), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 491. One other patient with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 159 such cases have been reported. To date, 123,815 tests have been conducted, of which 1,133 were in the last 24 hours.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 706 new cases of COVID-19 and 205 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 28,606 of which 11,824 are active cases and 16,140 have already recovered. Seven COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 66 and the oldest 86), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 484. One other patient with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 158 such cases have been reported. To date, 122,682 tests have been conducted, of which 2,437 were in the last 24 hours.
Situation in Artsakh
The Ministry of Health of Artsakh reported six new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 135, of which 34 are active cases and 101 have already recovered. Three of the new confirmed cases are healthcare workers. To date, 2,170 tests have been conducted and 103 people are in isolation. One of the patients, who has chronic diseases and pneumonia, is in critical condition. Another three patients are in critical, but stable condition.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 580 new cases of COVID-19 and 451 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 27,900 of which 11,331 are active cases and 15,935 have already recovered. Eight COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 59 and the oldest 86), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 477. One other patient with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 157 such cases have been reported. To date, 120,245 tests have been conducted, of which 2,043 were in the last 24 hours.
Avinyan on COVID-19 Developments
Tigran Avinyan, the Warden of the Special Commission said in a Facebook post that since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the Government was challenged to mobilize the healthcare system and expand its capacity. He reminded that when COVID-19 just started spreading, only 300 tests were conducted per day; by May, 1,000 tests were conducted daily, and in June, the number of tests conducted per day almost doubled, reaching over 2,000. To date, 120,245 diagnostic tests have been conducted in Armenia.
The Institute of Molecular Biology has already produced 5,500 diagnostic tests, which were provided to the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is expected that the Institute will produce over 100,000 tests. Avinyan also noted that since March, over 2,500 beds have been allocated to COVID-19 patients, 290 of which were ICU beds. Currently, 19 medical centers across Armenia (seven are located in the regions and twelve in Yerevan) are treating COVID-19 patients. To date, 15,935 people have recovered from coronavirus.
Since the outbreak, over 5,680 medical workers participated in trainings to improve their skills of treating COVID-19 patients. Another 2,270 medics participated in more specialized international and local webinars.
Situation in Artsakh
The Ministry of Health of Artsakh reported four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 129, of which 28 are active cases and 101 have already recovered. The Ministry also reported that a new infection hub was detected in the capital Stepanakert and that two of the new cases were detected there. The remaining two cases were confirmed To date, 2,014 tests have been conducted and 85 people are in isolation. One of the patients, who has chronic diseases and pneumonia, is in critical condition. Another three patients are in critical, but stable condition.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 662 new cases of COVID-19 and 448 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 27,320 of which 11,211 are active cases and 15,484 have already recovered. Ten COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 56 and the oldest 83), who all, except for one patient, had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 469. Three other patients with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 156 such cases have been reported. To date, 118,102 tests have been conducted, of which 2,337 were in the last 24 hours.