PM Nikol Pashinyan:
- The COVID-19 situation in the country remains critical and 425 new cases were reported within the last 24 hours. The most important concern remains the issue of wearing a face mask.
- Based on the decision of the Special Commission, starting from tomorrow, citizens will be required to have identification when outside (passport, ID card or driving license). Pashinyan explained that the decision was made to increase the efficiency of filing reports on administrative violations, when citizens violate the set guidelines.
- Those citizens who do not have identification documents will be fined 10,000 AMD. Those citizens who are not wearing a face mask and do not have their ID, will be fined separately. *The fine for not wearing a face mask is 10,000 AMD.
- Until now, police officers were responsible for monitoring the compliance of citizens with the rules and regulations. Moving forward, representatives of other government bodies will also be involved in the process, which will allow the police to significantly increase its capacity.
- Pashinyan reminded that the requirement of wearing gloves was removed several weeks ago, which happened as new scientific reports were published about the overall efficiency of the practice. Instead, it is now recommended to disinfect/wash hands regularly.
- Speaking about the importance of wearing a face mask, Pashinyan brought up his own example to show how effective it can be. He stressed that because he was wearing a face mask when around other people, he did not transmit the virus to others, when he was infected with COVID-19.
Hayk Marutyan, the Mayor of Yerevan spoke next:
- The Municipality allocated funds from its 2020 budget to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical centers and polyclinics. PPEs and disinfectants were also provided to the employees of the Municipality, to all twelve administrative districts of Yerevan and kindergartens.
- The Municipality also continues disinfecting public transport vehicles operating in Yerevan, as well as the elevators and entrances of residential buildings in the capital. Disinfection is conducted by licensed companies.
- Over 3,550 packages were allocated to senior citizens who live alone and do not have caretakers. Also, from January to March, 2020, over 14,000 socially vulnerable families received state assistance.
- Marutyan stressed the important role of the Emergency Ambulance Service, polyclinics and hospitals working under the supervision of the Municipality. He noted that although the Ambulance Service continues organizing the transfer of patients who test positive for the virus or who are possibly infected with the virus, the Municipality also introduced a new initiative. Starting from April 21, all those patients who are enrolled in polyclinics under the supervision of Yerevan Municipality and medical centers located in Yerevan can be tested without going to polyclinics. To date, 5,628 such tests were conducted.
- Polyclinics working under the supervision of Yerevan Municipality have monitored over 4,493 citizens, 1,053 of whom have tested positive for the virus.
- Funds were allocated to ensure the safety of those children attending kindergartens. Attendance rate, however, is very low, only 6-7% of the children attend kindergartens during the pandemic (from 30,500 about 1,900 children are going to kindergartens).
- Marutyan said that the Municipality is considering the efficiency of having all the kindergartens open and is discussing the possibility of having only one kindergarten open in each of the administrative districts.
- He asked citizens to always wear a face mask when outside, avoid being outside when possible and limit the contact with other people as much as possible.
- Wearing a face mask is not for your safety, it is for the safety of others around you.
Head of the Food Safety Inspectorate, Giorgi Avetisyan
- Since March 19, the Inspectorate has carried out 13,067 inspections; 1,015 reports have been filed. As a result, 976 restaurants, food production companies and stores have since been temporarily closed.
- In the last month, only 1000 of the 4000 inspections revealed safety breaches and warranted a report; a tendency that businesses are following the safety rules more closely.
- Main breaches of the safety requirements are: social distancing between customers, offering hookah to customers which is strictly forbidden, employees not wearing their masks properly, lack of hand sanitizers on tables, failure in taking the temperature of customers and employees and failure to keep a log with the collected data, lack of special garbage bins for face masks, failure to visibly exhibit the safety requirements, failure to appoint a person responsible to oversee that safety regulations are followed, failure to carry out disinfection as required, failure to provide employees with a sufficient amount of personal safety items, lack of running hot water.
Iravaban.net, Alica Chilingaryan: During the May 21 government session you said that there was talk about the government offering money to convince people to agree to be registered as a COVID-19 patient. There are still discussions taking place that relatives of people who have died of other reasons are being offered money to register them as COVID-19 deaths. On June 12, in parliament, you said that the sources of misinformation regarding COVID-19 should be investigated. Please elaborate on the status of the investigation and have any sources of misinformation been tracked.
Nikol Pashinyan: I would like to understand how similar discussions come about. The biggest criticism directed at us today is about the large number of infections and the daily reports of deaths. Meaning, we ourselves are giving our critics tools to criticize us? There is no information about COVID-19 that is not accessible to the citizens of Armenia. Efforts to find the sources of misinformation are underway and are revealing interesting facts. I’m not even sure if I should reveal this information because it will have a negative resonance but when we were quarantining people at the Golden Palace hotel in Tsaghkadzor, certain political opposition groups started saying that the hotel was not being used to quarantine people but it was closed off because there is an international congress of sexual minorities underway there. The same group later said that COVID-19 is a lie, until a family member contracts the virus. This is the extent of how low and insidious the scene is. We are following the course of misinformation and if we are not able to find a de jure way of bringing them to justice, because there are legislative shortcomings, we will discuss the possibility of making these facts public to give people a chance to draw their own conclusions. It is now obvious that some political forces are interested in seeing numbers grow, more people die, the economy collapse because their kind prospers in that kind of a swamp.
Armenia Today, Nare Harutynyan: You have on several occasions said that the government is considering the possibility of returning to a lockdown while at the same time being aware of the negative economic effect it will have. The regulations in place now have yet to produce tangible results. Is there a Plan B, if the strategy in place now fails.
Nikol Pashinyan: There were several instances when we were on the brink of returning to a lockdown during our meeting with the Special Commission but then after further discussion, we understood that the biggest problem, the most common clusters of transmission are neighborhoods. Let us say we do not allow citizens to go to Republic Square but we can not keep them from visiting their neighbors for coffee, which is the bigger danger compared to being at Republic Square. At a given point during the lockdown, numbers started increasing because people started getting bored and going to their neighbor’s more often than before.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 425 new cases of COVID-19 and 295 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 17,489, of which 10,529 are active cases and 6,571 have already recovered. Eight COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 63 and the oldest 88), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 293. Two other patients with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 96 such cases have been reported. To date, 85,556 tests have been conducted, of which 1,956 were in the last 24 hours.
Armenians Return From Saint Petersburg
According to the agreement reached between the Consulate of Armenia in Saint Petersburg and Red Wings Airlines, 225 Armenian citizens returned from Saint Petersburg on a charter flight. According to the decision of the Special Commission, all those returning to Armenia must self-isolate for 14 days in their place of residence.
Doctors From France
On June 14, seven French doctors arrived in Armenia to help Armenian colleagues with the ongoing coronavirus crisis. At the airport, they were greeted by High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan, Deputy Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan and the French and U.S. ambassadors to Armenia. Later, Arsen Torosyan, the Health Minister said that the French medics already started working in the intensive care units of St. Grigor Lusavorich and St. Astvatsamayr medical centers and the Scientific Center of Traumatology and Orthopaedics, all of which treat COVID-19 patients.
This is the first international medical mission to Armenia, which was made possible by the close collaboration of the High Commissioner’s Office, USAID and the Ministry of Health. The group of French doctors will be in Armenia at least for ten days.