On June 24, the police issued 1710 fines for non-compliance with safety rules. To date, 36,113 inspections have been carried out by state inspection bodies resulting in the Special Commission temporarily shutting down 3672 businesses.
Two More MPs Test Positive For Coronavirus
EBRD Provides $20 million Loan
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a $20 million loan to ACBA-Credit Agricole for on-lending to private companies in Armenia that have been affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press release, the EBRD says it remains “an important partner in Armenia during the Covid-19 crisis and the new financing is part of the efforts to help combat the impact of the coronavirus and support the recovery.”
The EBRD has invested close to €1.5 billion across 183 projects in Armenia supporting private sector development and the transition to a sustainable, green economy.
During the Government session, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that coronavirus remains the most pressing issue in the country. Arsen Torosyan, the Health Minister, provided updates on the COVID-19 situation in the country. The Minister said that from 2,336 tests conducted within the last 24 hours, 771 came back positive, which is a record number of cases confirmed on one day. He went on to say that the absolute number of confirmed cases remains a critical factor in the ability of the healthcare sector to provide assistance to all those who need it. The situation in the country, according to Torosyan, remains stable but critical. Speaking about bed capacity, Torosyan said that as of 9 a.m., there are 51 patients who need to be hospitalized (two of them are in their homes, while the remaining 49 are already in hospitals but need to be transferred to specialized medical centers). Torosyan stressed that this is an ongoing process and that in this regard the situation is normal.
Speaking about bed capacity in intensive care units, the Minister said that almost all medical centers treating coronavirus patients have unoccupied beds and stressed that currently anyone who requires treatment in ICU, is not being turned away because of a lack of beds. According to Torosyan, this does not mean that the situation has improved, because the number of patients who need to be placed in ICUs can change very quickly. Currently, 502 patients are in critical condition, 113 in extremely critical condition and 40 patients are on ventilators.
PM Pashinyan said that it is important to understand if the number of confirmed cases represents the overall situation in the country [he reminded that according to some estimates, up to 100,000 were infected in Armenia about ten days ago but because they were asymptomatic, they did not know about their infection]. Torosyan explained that theoretically and practically it is impossible to identify everyone infected with COVID-19 in the country, because a person may be infected with the virus but the test would not show it in the first few days. He went on to say that the estimated number of cases, including the undetected ones, are calculated by considering a number of factors and stressed that it is never the reflection of the situation in the country on that particular day. That number includes all those who were infected, but did not know about the infection and have already recovered, those who are infected now but because they are asymptomatic don’t know about the infection, those who are infected and know that they are infected. Torosyan stressed that it would be wrong to say that we have 100,000 cases in the country, because some of them have already recovered.
The Minister said that according to analysis conducted by the Ministry, the growth rate of the spread of the virus has not increased among younger people. The picture is the direct opposite among older people. Speaking about the geographical analysis, the Minister said that now Yerevan is one big infection hub (in the past the virus was spread in specific administrative districts). Torosyan stressed that the virus is everywhere and everyone needs to take preventive steps by following the anti-epidemic rules (wear a face mask, regularly wash/disinfect hands and maintain physical distancing).
Pashinyan reminded about his meeting yesterday with the representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), during which they confirmed that the three rules, which the Armenian Government is recommending people to follow, have proven their efficiency around the world. The problem is with compliance of those rules. Vahe Ghazaryan, the Chief of Police reported that 1,707 reports on administrative violations were filed on June 24 alone, 939 of which were reported in Yerevan. He went on to say that the main problem remains ensuring compliance of the rules in small neighbourhoods and that the police will continue their monitoring. Pashinyan stressed that local self-government bodies, volunteers have to keep small neighbourhoods under their constant attention. Pashinyan urged citizens to change their behaviour and follow the anti-epidemic rules because otherwise the situation will continue deteriorating.
Zaruhi Batoyan, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, presented the twenty-second assistance package aimed at mitigating the consequences of COVID-19. The beneficiaries of the program are those citizens of Armenia who were employed between January 1 to March 30, 2020 for at least 85 days but were fired between March 31 to June, 2020 and did not secure new employment within the mentioned period. Batoyan said that some of the exceptions include pawnshops, credit organizations and insurance companies. The beneficiaries of the package will receive one-time assistance in the amount of the minimum wage. PM Pashinyan reminded that as of April over 70,000 jobs were lost due to the pandemic and about 50,000 were recovered in May. He went on to say that the Government decided to provide assistance to the remaining 20,000 citizens who lost their jobs. Pashinyan noted that people along with the Government have to do everything to avoid another lockdown, otherwise thousands of people will be left without jobs.
Situation in Artsakh
According to Artsakh’s Health Ministry, a new COVID-19 infection hub has been discovered in the region of Shahumyan; a resident of the village of Charektar has tested positive. Another two new cases were confirmed from the Getavan infection hub bringing the number of new cases to three for a total of 113 in Artsakh. Sixty-five people are in quarantine and the number of tests conducted to date is 1763.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 771 new cases of COVID-19 and 538 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 22,488, of which 10,625 are active cases and 11,335 have already recovered. Eleven COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 44 and the oldest 90), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 397. One other patient with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 131 such cases have been reported. To date, 102,736 tests have been conducted, of which 2336 were in the last 24 hours.
Azerbaijani Hackers Release Personal Data of COVID-19 Patients Again
Samvel Martirosyan, a specialist in information security and new media has reported that Azerbaijani hackers have yet again released the personal data of COVID-19 patients in Armenia. This time, according to Martirosyan, the personal data of about 1000 patients was released, including their names, addresses, cell phone numbers but not passport data.
Martirosyan said it is the same hackers and they likely obtained the information the same way as before, through hacking the emails belonging to the Ministry of Health.
On June 13 the personal data of about 3,500 COVID-19 patients in Armenia was leaked online. At the time, the Prime Minister’s spokesperson, Mane Gevogyan responded to the news saying law enforcement is already looking into the matter, to check if the leaked information is accurate and to understand how the data was compromised.
Situation in Artsakh
The Health Ministry of Artsakh reported seven new cases of COVID-19. The Ministry said five are from the capital Stepanakert, where a new hotspot has emerged. Two are from Gedavan, both were the contacts of anrely registered patients. This brings the total number of COVID-19 infections in Artsakh to 110 with 77 recoveries and 68 citizens currently in quarantine. 1,724 tests have been conducted to date, there have been no COVID-19 deaths.
Centralized Management During State of Emergencies
The Ministry of Health is drafting a legislative package which foresees a centralized management of the healthcare system in the event of a State of Emergency (SOE). According to the new legislative initiative during a SOE the government will be authorized to transfer the management of all medical centers of the Republic of Armenia to the Ministry of Health, regardless of the affiliation and ownership of the medical institutions.
According to the amendment, the Ministry of Health will be able to manage all licensed medical facilities as needed, will have the right to appoint temporary directors who will be directly subordinate to the Ministry and carry out the Ministry’s instructions aimed at providing the needed healthcare in maximum capacity.
A similar amendment is also proposed for Article 11 of the Law on Martial Law (ռազմական դրության), which stipulates that the management of all medical centers (regardless of ownership) is transferred to the Ministry of Health.
The legislative package is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly next week.
Special Advisor to WHO
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan had a meeting with Michel Tieren, European Regional Director and Special Adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO). According to the official statement, the WHO mission is in Armenia to learn more about the country’s COVID-19 strategy and provide additional suggestions and recommendations. During the meeting, Pashinyan spoke about the importance of cooperation between Armenia and WHO as well as the assistance and guidance provided by the WHO. He went on to say that it would be possible to overcome the pandemic with collective efforts.
Speaking about Armenia’s fight against coronavirus, Tieren noted that he was impressed by the conditions of Armenian medical centers treating COVID-19 patients. He also said that currently Armenia does not have infected patients who are not hospitalized because of the lack of bed capacity. According to Tieren, information about the pandemic is still not complete and that explains why experts share differing views regarding the fight against it. But he stressed the importance of wearing face masks, regularly disinfecting/washing hands, maintaining physical distancing and avoiding mass gatherings and indoor events. The experience, according to Tieren, has shown that people need to learn how to live alongside the virus by following the anti-epidemic rules. Tieren called for intergovernmental cooperation in order to more effectively detect and manage the spread of the virus.
Second Group of Doctors From France Arrive
The second group of doctors from France arrived in Armenia on a Marseille-Yerevan charter flight on June 23. Welcoming the doctors at the airport were High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs Zareh Sinanyan, Deputy Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan, French Ambassador to Armenia Jonathan Lacôte, and Chief of Staff to the Office of the High Commissioner Sara Anjargolian.
The initiative was made possible through the efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner, with the close collaboration of the Ministry of Health and the French Embassy to Armenia.
There are two Armenian doctors in this second mission, including the leader of the group, Professor Laurent Papazian, Director of the Intensive Care Unit at the Nord Medical Center in Marseilles, France, and a leader in the field of ventilator-associated illnesses and intensive care specialist Dr. Hayk Vardanyan. According to Zareh Sinanyan, discussions are underway with Armenian doctors from the United States, Ukraine, and other countries in order to involve them in similar missions to Armenia.
“Our local doctors welcomed their international colleagues with open arms. Looking at the results of the previous group, I can say that a wonderful cooperation took place. Of course, we have to ensure continuity, so today, this group will meet the previous group and they will share their impressions and experiences. A lot of effort is being made in order to make such initiatives possible,” stated Deputy Minister of Health, Anahit Avanesyan.
The doctors, hailing from some of the best medical institutions in Paris and Marseilles will carry out their mission at St. Gregory the Illuminator Hospital and the Traumatology and Orthopedics Research Center.
PCR Tests Produced in Armenia
Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said in a Facebook post that the locally produced COVID-19 PCR tests are already available. The Ministry will use the tests to conduct testing free of charge. Torosyan thanked the Institute of Molecular Biology for developing and producing the tests as well as the Special Commission for purchasing all the equipment and materials needed for the development of the tests. The Minister stressed that the production of the tests is a serious step forward for the country’s medical and scientific fields.
Two MPs Test Positive For Coronavirus
Viktor Yengibaryan and Kristine Poghosyan, members of Parliament from the My Step faction have tested positive for COVID-19.
Update on Number of Cases
The Ministry of Health reported 711 new cases of COVID-19 and 653 recoveries, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 21,717, of which 10,404 are active cases and 10,797 have already recovered. Fourteen COVID-19 patients (the youngest aged 62 and the oldest 83), who all had pre-existing health conditions, died bringing the total number of deaths to 386. Four other patients with COVID-19 also died, but the virus was not the cause of death; 130 such cases have been reported. To date, 100,400 tests have been conducted, of which 2,283 were in the last 24 hours.