Situation in Armenia
Below we present a chronology of the situation in Armenia, which will be updated regularly.
The first case of COVID-19 was announced on March 1.
2:20 p.m.: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Alina Nikoghoyan confirmed in a Facebook post that 14 employees of the National Center of Disease Control and Prevention have tested positive for COVID-19. All necessary preventative measures have been taken, writes Nikoghosyan and notes that these are not new cases; the abovemented 14 cases were already included in the March 28 statistics.
11 a.m.: In its latest update, the Armenian Unified Infocenter confirmed another 17 cases of COVID-19 in Armenia, bringing the total number of infected to 424, with three deaths and 30 recoveries.
2:50 a.m.: Armenia’s Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan confirmed that two COVID-19 related deaths were registered at the Nork Infection Diseases Hospital in the last hour. A 55 year-old-woman and a 73 year-old-man; both had secondary health issues.
9:30 p.m.: In its latest update, the Armenian Unified Infocenter confirmed that there are 407 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Armenia, one death, 30 recoveries.
8:35 p.m. In a Facebook live, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the Russian Federation has decided to close all its borders and that decision had raised certain concerns in Armenia, especially for businesses that believe this will have an effect on crago transits between Armenia and Russia. “I want to say that this decision in no way affects cargo coming to or from Armenia,” Pashinyan said. “This was also confirmed in the conversation I had with the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin. So we will continue working at the same pace as we were three days ago.”
Pashinyan said that cargo at the Upper Lars checkpoint has been stranded for days because of heavy snow and there have been large accumulations of cargo after the roads opened. “We have been actively collaborating with our Russian and Georgian partners in the last few days to make sure cargo transit is back to its normal routine. This collaboration has been very fruitful and I would like to thank our partners in both Russia and Georgia for the constructive dialogue,” Pashinyan said and added that he’s confident everything will be resolved in the coming days as there is already improvement.
About cargo transports in general, Pashinyan said that food is being imported to Armenia regularly as it always has and that he receives daily reports not only about the import of food, but also the reserves in the country
“I want to thank all citizens who are abiding by the restrictions set by the Special Commission. As you can see for yourselves, the shelves at the stores are full and our only issue is the virus, which we will overcome through our joint efforts,” Pashinyan said apologizing for the inconvenience. “Be assured this is being done for the sake of the health and the safety of the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, especially our parents, grandmothers and grandfathers.”
The Prime Minister underscored that the situation with coronavirus is worrying as the number of cases is increasing. “We had about 35 new cases today, however, the situation is still considered to be manageable and we should really follow the rules this week to keep the situation manageable as much as possible and not place insurmountable pressure on our healthcare system,” Pashinyan said.
The Prime Minister spoke about the tools that are being put into place to help the country overcome the crisis. “The government has already implemented five initiatives and new ones are underway and will be ratified in the upcoming government sessions,” he said. “At times like this, we should be unified and we have shown that we are capable of it. We are capable of being united, dignified and even able to think strategically about the future.”
7:40 p.m.: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Alina Nikoghosyan says that as of 7:30 p.m. March 28, 13 COVID-19 patients with pneumonia are in the intensive care unit at the Nork Infection Diseases Hospital. Doctors say two patients are in extremely critical condition (they are intubated). Two patients are in a critical condition (in relatively stable health), the remaining nine are in stable condition.
Nikoghosyan also said that the results of double testing have shown that two patients in treatment at the hospital have recovered, bringing the total number of recovered COVID-19 patients in Armenia to 30.
12 p.m.: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government will allocate nearly $274 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to help countries better combat the pandemic.
The U.S. Embassy in Armenia has said that $1.1 million has been authorized for Armenia. This support will be implemented through the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and will focus on the following areas: national laboratories; surveillance, case detection and rapid response; infection prevention and control; points of entry; case management; preparedness planning, risk communication, community engagement; and health and hygiene promotion.
For more details click here.
10 a.m.: Another 43 new cases of COVID-19 in the country have been confirmed, bringing the total number of infected to 372; one death and 28 recovered.
1:50 p.m.: The Armenian Unified Infocenter published a statement by Armenia’s Defense Ministry:
“Conditioned by the previously confirmed cases of coronavirus among three soldiers stationed in a non-combat military unit, 32 soldiers from the same unit were tested; another five soldiers also underwent testing.
Thirty-five soldiers tested negative, however, two soldiers tested positive for COVID-19. Both of these are directly related to the first case. The two soldiers, who were previously isolated, have been hospitalized. They are in satisfactory condition.
The five infected contract soldiers do not have pneumonia, one has a slightly high fever, the remaining four have no symptoms.
People who have come into contact with the contract soldiers continue to remain in quarantine at a designated area that is equipped with all the necessary conditions.
The RA Defense Ministry will, as needed, provide information on the latest statistics and efforts to halt the spread of the virus among the armed forces.
We call on you to follow only official channels of information. The utmost is being implemented to fight the spread of the virus in the armed forces.”
12:50 p.m.: In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote that since March 20, banks in Armenia have revised the loan conditions for 96,838 individuals and 3395 businesses/legal entities. In the majority of cases, banks have granted a payment holiday, in some cases for several months.
The total sum of these loans is approximately 200 billion AMD.
11:30 a.m.: Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan in a Facebook live gave updates on the situation of COVID-19. Torosyan spoke about the first coronavirus death in the country, which was registered yesterday. The Minister said that doctors unfortunately could not save his life because the patient, an elderly citizen, had pre-existing health conditions including hypertension and arrhythmia. Torosyan said this, once again, shows that the elderly, especially those with secondary health conditions, are more likely to have complications and it is vital that we protect them from the spread of the virus.
The Minister confirmed that 40 citizens in quarantine were released yesterday. Another ten patients will be released today after their double testing results come back negative: “In this case we can say that we have an additional ten recovered patients.” With the already 18 recovered, Torosyan said Armenia will soon have 28 recovered patients.
One patient continues to remain in an extremely critical condition and another is in a critical condition. At the moment, there is no threat to the lives of the remaining patients, majority of whom are asymptomatic or have light cases; these patients are, however, simply quarantined in hospitals or hotels.
Torosyan also confirmed the case of a mother and her two-month-old child being infected that was mentioned by a reporter at his press conference yesterday. The Minister said that he was not told about that case at the time of the briefing. The child has no symptoms, the mother had a high temperature for two days but currently has no symptoms. Both mother and child are in hospital under the care of doctors.
Concluding the update, Torosyan said there are 329 confirmed cases in Armenia at the moment; 28 recovered and 300 citizens on their way to recovery (not counting the ten announced above) and one death. The Minister expressed his condolences to the family of the patient and urged everyone, once again, to pay special attention to the elderly who are in the high risk group.
10 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 329, one death and 18 recovered patients.
6 p.m.: Armenia has registered its first death from COVID-19. Alina Nikoghosyan, the spokesperson of the Health Ministry wrote on her Facebook page that the 72-year-old developed pneumonia, multiple organ failure; the patient had pre-existing health conditions including hypertension, arrhythmia and respiratory problems.
The patient had been in extremely critical condition in intensive care.
1:30 p.m.: The spokesperson for the Armenian Ministry of Defense, Shushan Stepanyan, has said that three contract soldiers have tested positive for COVID-19. Test samples have been taken from an additional 32 soldiers and are pending results. The Defense Minister [according to Stepanyan] has said that since a large number of servicemen are in daily contact with the civilian population, it was impossible to prevent the virus from entering the ranks of the military.
Stepanyan said that, on March 25, samples were taken from the three contract soldiers who are
all from the same non-combat military unit. A family member of one of these soldiers had earlier tested positive for COVID-19. All three cases are related and go back to one of the main infection branches in the country (through contact tracing). All three are in isolation, which has considerably lessened the risks of further infection.
The soldiers are currently hospitalized. Their condition is stable; none of them have pneumonia. One of the soldiers has a slight fever, the other two do not nor do they have any other symptoms typical of the virus.
Stepanyan made assurances that the infected soldiers are receiving high quality and effective medical attention and that there is no risk to their lives.
Rigorous contact tracing has been done and all affected individuals have been isolated in a special facility, where they are regularly monitored.
The military unit where the soldiers were stationed is far from the Line of Contact and they have been confined to their barracks. Extensive measures have been taken to disinfect the facility and medical monitoring is ongoing.
Stepanyan stressed that, as of today, there are no other registered cases of soldiers displaying symptoms of coronavirus. Large-scale preventive measures are ongoing within the armed forces, all military units are under strict restrictions to contain and prevent the spread of the virus. Soldiers are being medically monitored daily. Intensive anti-epidemic measures and strict restrictions in the armed forces over the past month has also resulted in the decrease of other non-life-threatening infectious diseases, the spokesperson said.
10 a.m.: According to the Ministry of Health, there are 290 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Armenia, with 18 patients already recovered.
11:55 p.m.: Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan wrote in a Facebook post that there are currently 36 COVID-19 patients with pneumonia in Armenia. The condition of two of the patients is extremely critical [they are on artificial ventilation] and the condition of another patient is critical.
The Minster also wrote that 14 people will be released from quarantine tomorrow as their test results have come back negative.
8:30 p.m.: According to Armenia’s Ministry of Finance, an account that was opened for individuals and organizations to donate funds to assist the government in fighting the spread of COVID-19 in the country, has raised 512,607,314 AMD (approximately $1 million US) through 2582 individual donations as March 25, 6 p.m.
8:15 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, as of 8:30 pm, 158 people have been fined (84 in the capital Yerevan, 74 in the regions) for violating the state of emergency rules of isolation or self-isolation and for violating other restrictions on freedom of movement.
Forty people did not have proper identification papers on them. They were obligated to present the appropriate ID to their local police stations to verify their identity, after which they were fined.
8 p.m.: The spokesperson of the Defense Ministry, Shushan Stepanyan has said that three servicemen of the Armenian Armed Forces are being tested for COVID-19.
Stepanyan said that taking into consideration that aside from servicemen performing their mandatory two-year service, there are contract soldiers who have direct contact with the civilian population (officers, non-commissioned officers and professional soldiers), thereby medical examinations and tests are regularly conducted.
To date, test samples have been taken from three contract soldiers. A family member of one of these soldiers tested positive for COVID-19. All three are from the same non-combat military unit. As is the protocol, direct contacts have been quarantined, secondary contacts are in self-isolation.
7 p.m.: Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan posted on his Facebook page that two more citizens infected with COVID-19 have recovered, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 18. Torosyan also said that later today he will provide information on the health condition of the other patients.
10 a.m.: The number of people infected with coronavirus in Armenia rises to 265; 16 patients have recovered, according to the Armenian Unified Infocenter.
9 p.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter:
– 14 COVID-19 patients have recovered; 12 of the 14 who were quarantined never exhibited any symptoms and were never hospitalized; the other two were being treated at the Nork Infection Clinical Hospital (announced earlier today).
– Another two patients at the Nork Infection Hospital have tested negative and will be released tomorrow after repeated tests confirm the negative results.
– Eight citizens have been released from quarantine, 37 of the 88 were in self-isolation in their building (announced earlier today), 51 people were quarantined at a designated facility.
8:58 p.m. Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan, in a Facebook live, announced the launch of a new Google-approved app as one of the tools to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Avinyan said that everyone with an Android phone will be able to download the app at https://ac19.am.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister, the most important function of the app is a questionnaire which will give the user relatively accurate information regarding his/her health. He said it is important that, after registering, the user answers the questions as accurately as possible. It is based on these answers that epidemiologists will analyse the user’s health and decide if further action is necessary. Avinyan said the data will go into a registry and it might take a little while before the data is analyzed. There are about 15 questions.
The app will also soon be available on Google store and for iPhones. You can also fill out the questionnaire online, through the website.
5:50 p.m.: Speaker of the National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan wrote on his Facebook page, “Even at times of emergency situations, the education of our children should be one of our priorities.” To ensure that a larger number of children have access to distance learning, Mirzoyan said 85 of the computers at the National Assembly will be sent to schools that need computers (following a list provided by the Ministry of Education), and the schools will then pass the computers on to families in need.
Mirzoyan went on to say that he thinks there are many governmental and private institutions as well as individuals who have working computers that they are not using and called on them to join the initiative.
5 p.m.: Armenia’s Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan wrote in a Facebook post that he visited the health facilities treating coronavirus patients to check up upon the quality of healthcare delivery and the progress of construction that is underway for a new wing. He said that a large number of COVID-19 patients are already being treated in these facilities but the bed capacity is continuously being increased.
Torosyan said that the Nork Infection Clinical Hospital will soon have an additional 151 standard and 12 intensive care beds. An additional 40 beds will be available at the newly constructed wing for patients waiting for their test results. “Construction of the wing has been slightly delayed due to technical reasons but it will be ready in the days to come,” said the Minister. The new wing will also have a CT scan, which the Minister said is necessary for early diagnosis of coronavirus induced pneumonia.
The Police Hospital will have an additional 170 standard and 14 intensive care beds.
The Orthopedic Center will have additional 140 standard and 16 intensive care beds.
St. Asdvadzadzin (Holy Mother of God) Medical Center in Yerevan’s suburb of Malatia-Sebastia will have additional 76 standard and 48 intensive care beds.
Torosyan wrote that Armenia currently has 41 artificial respirators for coronavirus patients, none are in use and added that there will be new acquisitions despite the difficulty.
0:15 a.m.: Following PM Nikol Pashinyan’s Facebook live, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan also went live, speaking about the current situation of COVID-19 in Armenia and around the world, and what are the future steps. Torosyan said that tomorrow they are going to run tests on one of the patients, currently in quarantine, who came in contact with the first patient infected with coronavirus. He reaffirmed Pashinyan’s announcement that between 50 to 70 patients are expected to return home, since they have already recovered or have been in quarantine for 14 days and the infection has not been detected.
Torosyan also noted that currently six patients remain in intensive care.
00:10 a.m.: In a Facebook live Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that there are 41 new cases of COVID-19 in Armenia bringing the number of infected in the country to 235. Pashinyan said that the geographic transmission and the volume of the new infections raises certain concerns.
There is a case of infection in the Kotayk region, at a factory. There is another case in one of the factories in Yerevan, in the Erebuni district. Taking this information into consideration, we need to implement additional restrictive measures to be able to curb the further spread of the virus.
Of the 235, cases 26 have pneumonia, their condition is satisfactory. Under these conditions, the Prime Minister said that the government will implement stricter measures. Starting tomorrow, all cafes and restaurants will be prohibited from operating, with the exception of deliveries. Certain kinds of construction work will be stopped as well as textile production companies. Grocery stores will continue to remain open, the production of food, drinks, tobacco, sanitary hygienic and daily use paper produce production will continue. The full list will be published by the Special Commission in the morning. Anything not included in the list will be suspended for a week.
Pashinyan said that they do expect good news tomorrow, more than 70 people in quarantine are finishing their 14 days and there is every reason to believe that the majority of them will test negative and return home.
9 a.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote a status on his Facebook outlining an initial plan and/or series of measures to ease the economic fallout as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. He asked citizens to send comments or proposals by 6 p.m. on March 24 to the following email address: [email protected]
1. Goals of the Proposal
To mitigate the current liquidity risks of companies in Armenia as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
2. Goals of the Assistance
The purpose of the assistance is to give entrepreneurs time to respond to the developing conditions and to then accordingly continue operations or reorganize/recalibrate to adapt to the changing economic situation.
3. Eligible Businesses
Within the scope of this assistance program, an economic enterprise is considered any private company or a sole proprietor (with the exception of banks, lending organizations, pawn shops and insurance companies) which has been operating in the Republic of Armenia in the last year and that has a good-standing tax and credit history.
4. Types of Assistance
4.1. Assistance will be provided to businesses in the form of co-financing, refinancing and interest rate subsidies on targeted loans from banks and licensed credit companies operating in Armenia. The purpose of the assistance program is to solve:
– Co-financing: To address issues of insufficient collateral for the loan holder, partial neutralization of currency risks and partial reduction of interest expenses.
– Refinancing: Complete compensation of currency risk for the loan holder, as well as partial reduction of interest payments.
– Subsidies: Significantly reducing interest payments for the loan holder.
4.2. Only one form of assistance is available/applicable to each business.
5. The purpose of the allocated loans as part of the assistance package
The forms of assistance are applicable to loans provided to businesses for the following expenses:
– Salaries of employees not exceeding 500,000 AMD per month for each employee for a maximum of three months (hereinafter referred to as employee loans);
– Remittances of taxes, duties and mandatory payments for state or community budgets (hereinafter referred to as taxes, duties and mandatory payments),
– Purchase or import of raw materials, provided the whole volume of raw materials is to be used in Armenia to obtain finished products and the company has the necessary and appropriate production capacity (hereinafter referred to as raw material loans);
– Import of equipment, provided that such equipment is to be used to organize or expand production in Armenia (hereinafter referred to as equipment loans);
– Utility payments (electricity, water, gas, communication and telecommunication costs, not more than AMD 5,000,000/month) for a maximum of three months (hereinafter referred to as utility payment loans);
– Import of food by supermarkets, provided that the product purchased or imported is to be sold in Armenia (hereinafter referred to as food loans).
6. Main requirement of the assistance loan programs
For the loans provided as part of the assistance programs, the following requirements have to be met:
– Currency in Armenian drams. In case of co-financing, financing from [other] financial institutions can be in foreign currency.
– Duration – up to 24 months
– For a single business, the maximum amount allocated as part of the assistance tools package is 500 million AMD. In case of co-financing or refinancing, the maximum amount allocated to a single business is 250 million AMD.
– The loans will be available only through electronic or bank transfers.
– The maximum integral interest rate will be from 0 to 6 percent annually (not more than 6%) depending on the regulation in place regarding the given assistance tool.
7. The structures providing loans as part of the assistance package
7.1. The loans will be given by all commercial banks and credit organizations working in Armenia.
7.2. The procedures of the implementation of the assistance package will be set by the Central Bank of Armenia and the RA Ministry of Finance.
8. Description of assistance tools
As part of the given initiative, any business, that corresponds to the criteria set out by the initiative, willing to take out a loan, can apply to a financial institution; if approved and as per the wish of the side taking the loan, the following rules/criteria will apply:
– Co-financing of the loan – will be in an amount equivalent to a certain percentage of the loan, with the same timeline as the loan, with 0% co-financing interest rate, with partial assumption of risk regarding the return of the principal, or;
– Refinancing of the loan – will be in an amount equivalent to a certain percentage of the principal (fully, if specific cases foreseen by this initiative apply), in the same timeline as the loan, with 0% co-financing interest rate, without assumption of risk regarding the return of the principal, or;
– Subsidizing the loan – a certain amount of the interest rate (fully if specific cases foreseen by this initiative apply), covering the full period of the loan, without assumption of risk regarding the return of the loan.
9. Depending on the purpose of the loan, limits on the use of assistance tools
Purpose of loans, amount of co-financing
Amount of co-financing, refinancing, and subsidization:
a) Employee salaries
– co-financing amount – 50%
– refinancing amount – 100%
– subsidy on interest – 100%
b) taxes, duties, mandatory payments
– co-financing amount – 50%
– refinancing amount – 100%
– subsidy on interest – 100%
– co-financing amount – 25%
– refinancing amount – 50%
– subsidy on interest – 5%
d) Purchase of raw materials
– co-financing amount – 40%
– refinancing amount – 50%
– subsidy on interest – 6%
e) Utility payments
– co-financing amount – 45%
– refinancing amount – 90%
– subsidy on interest – 10%
f) Food imports
– co-financing amount – 30%
– refinancing amount – 50%
– subsidy on interest – 8%
Points a), b) and e) are subject to a maximum annual interest rate of 12% and must be in AMD.
Points c), d) and f) are subject to a maximum annual interest rate of 12% for loans in AMD or 9% for loans in a foreign currency.
10:20 a.m.: According to the Armenian unified infocenter, the number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Armenia remains the same, 194.
9:30: This evening, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan went live on Facebook to speak about the state of emergency due to COVID-19.
Pashinyan said that, at the moment, there are 194 cases of COVID-19 in Armenia. He noted that 70-75 percent of those infected are from the two infection hubs – the Etchmiadzin engagement and the factory in Yerevan. He said that it appears health authorities have been able to stop the transmission from the Etchmiadzin cluster and are now trying to stop the transmission from the factory.
At the moment, there are nine patients over the age of 60, three over the age of 70 and no one over the age of 80. Fourteen of those infected have pneumonia, six of them are in intensive care but their condition continues to be stable.
A special arrangement was made with the governments of Russia and Georgia to repatriate 140 Armenian citizens over land from the Upper Lars checkpoint. The Prime Minister thanked their partners but instructed Armenian citizens to use only air transport between Russia and Armenia as Georgia’s land borders are closed and this was a one-time exception.
Pashinyan said that the world is still trying to figure out how to fight coronavirus and that all countries are still adapting their response to the situation day by day. He said that it is hard to predict how long the pandemic will last, but some estimates suggest that it might last up to one year. Regarding the suggestion that warmer temperatures will slow down the spread, he clarified that this is just a hypothesis that has not been proven.
The Prime Minister spoke about his government’s response strategy to not only prevent the spread of the illness but to prevent deaths if possible, and if not to minimize deaths. He noted that there is some certainty that coronavirus mainly affects people over the age of 75. Pashinyan said that everyone must ensure that the elderly are protected and state agencies will also do their part. Pensions are traditionally handed out in cash at post office outlets. Preparations are being made to have them delivered by the government instead.
In parallel to containing the spread of the virus, Pashinyan said its economic impacts must also be mitigated, including through long term restructuring. “The world is now busy trying to prevent the spread of the virus but I think countries that also manage to come up with long term strategies in the meantime that guarantee the country’s future economic reinforcement, are the ones that will come out favorably on the other end,” he said, adding that they have already taken a number of important decisions in this respect which will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The Prime Minister said that an assistance package will provide extensive support to the workforce and business owners. It envisages preferential loans to companies in need of assistance to make payroll, report their taxes, import raw material, modernize their production and also make strategic investments.
Acknowledging that uncertainty tends to reduce the willingness of banks to make loans, the government is willing to cofinance bank loans in certain areas with a 30-50% stake, to free up credit.
Regarding the agricultural sector, Pashinyan noted, “People will continue to eat after the pandemic. In this respect I think it is important for us to be able to seriously support the agricultural sector, especially as the spring planting season nears, to make sure that agricultural activity is not only proceeding at its full capacity but to also make sure that there are new investments in the sector and that more people take up agriculture.”
For this reason, the interest on loans will be offset for all agricultural development projects, especially drip irrigation, smart farms, cultivation of new fields and greenhouses. Pashinyan said that the government should participate directly in financing individuals who work in priority sectors, by offsetting interest on their loans and co-financing with stakes up to 30%. If farmers have difficulty getting individual loans due to a bad credit history, the Prime Minister suggested that they join together in voluntary co-operatives in their respective communities to gain eligibility for up to 70% government co-financing. Such co-operatives may require a licensed manager, chosen by its members, that will continue to receive management training. Agriculture was identified as a sector where employment was possible while still maintaining social distancing practices.
Another issue was the overall impact on employment. Pashinyan said the government is putting together a new social assistance package for affected citizens. They are monitoring the employment situation through an online platform on a daily basis, which indicates how many people are unemployed and if they have managed to find other employment. As the job market is being reshaped, while some employment opportunities are lost, new ones are also emerging and it is important to monitor what kinds of movements are happening in the job market.
In regards to emergency preventative measures, Pashinyan said that the commissioner [for the state of emergency] has issued new decisions, which impose new restrictions on daily life. He emphasized that, in the short-term, it will be necessary to enforce serious restrictions to prevent the further spread of the virus. “We should all consider, what should we do if this lasts long? We should find reasonably safe methods to live and work in the conditions of the coronavirus. And this is one of the main directions the government is working towards today,” he said.
Pashinyan said that as a result of their efforts combating the crisis this past week, he is even more optimistic about the prospects of building a stronger and more resilient country as a result of the pandemic.
Noting that many countries, like Armenia, have initiated a state of emergency and that others are thinking of imposing a curfew or have already done so, Pashinyan said that he believes that the state of emergency should be internalized. “Each of us should understand that the country’s and each individual’s future is dependent on the discipline that each of us exhibits. There is a lot that the world does not know about coronavirus but there are simple rules that we can abide by and through individual discipline prevent the spread of the virus,” he said.
The Prime Minister also noted that there are no shortages in the markets in Armenia. “The price of gasoline has gone down considerably in Armenia. For now the prices of diesel fuel have not gone down and we will, in the days to come, try to find out why,” Pashinyan said.
Pashinyan thanked the medical staff in hospitals, security agencies (police, national security service), businesses that are ensuring products are available. He said that they, like the rest of the country, are concerned. “We are managing our concerns and not giving into panic. We are carefully monitoring economic and social issues stemming from the situation and all our decisions must be taken without emotion, based on information and logic,” he said. Taking into consideration that we are living in conditions of a global crisis, Pashinyan said that we all need to ensure that we come out of the situation more economically competitive, with a better healthcare system and stronger as a country.
7:15 p.m.: Of the 190 cases of COVID-19 in Armenia, 157 are connected to the two infection clusters [Etchmiadzin and the factory in Yerevan].
People who had come into contact with 27 of the patients are in quarantine, people who had come into contact with the patients from the other infection cluster are also in self-isolation. Those who had come into contact with the remaining six patients, have already been identified.
3:30 p.m.: In a Facebook live Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said that of the 190 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 14 patients have pneumonia and of those, six patients have health complications and are in intensive care. However, the minister said they are not intubated, meaning they are not on artificial respirators. According to Torosyan, their health is stable and they remain under round the clock supervision. All six of the patients have secondary health issues. The remaining patients with pneumonia are receiving treatment. The others are not receiving any treatment other than the occasional fever treatment medication. Torosyan said that in a few days, it will be the 14th day of the quarantine for a group of people, who he hopes will return home after the final testing. Also in a couple of days, it will be the 14th day of treatment for some of the confirmed cases. Torosyan says he hopes the tests will reveal that they have recovered.
The medical facilities where COVID-19 patients are being treated are being reinforced with additional specialists, be it infectious diseases specialists, ER doctors and other medical staff.
10 a.m.: Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan has announced that in order to raise the preparedness of medical staff in the country, the Ministry, in collaboration with the National Institute of Health and the National Center for Disease Control, and professional associations is starting a series of online lectures on the novel coronavirus for healthcare professionals.
10 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, there are now 190 people infected with COVID-19 in Armenia, with two people recovered.
8:55 p.m.: Armenia’s Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan has said in a Facebook post that a second coronavirus patient has recovered and will be discharged today. The patient’s tests have come back negative. The patient’s mother, who he/she shared a room with for 21 days and was never infected will also be discharged. All her tests have also come back negative.
10:20 a.m.: The Armenian Unified Infocenter has stated that out of the 160 cases of COVID-19, 133 can be directly linked to the two infection clusters [Etchmiadzin and the factory in Yerevan].
10 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Infocenter, there are now 160 cases of COVID-19 in the country. As a reminder, authorities have said that they will now be announcing the number of infected only once a day.
0:45 a.m: Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan in a Facebook live said that they just concluded another consultation.
He said that since there is an increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, the Nork Infection Clinical Hospital [in Yerevan] is no longer the only medical facility treating coronavirus patients. Currently, there are COVID-19 patients in another five healthcare facilities, and additionally a couple of patients in regional hospitals. “Please do not look for conspiracy theories in this information,” the Minister said. “Be informed that this is a continuous process and the number of these hospitals is likely to grow.” As the situation develops, strategic changes will be made with regard to how much these hospitals should be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients – cases of what severity will be admitted to hospital and if all light cases and cases with no symptoms will continue to remain in health facilities. “Usually asymptomatic cases are the ones who go to other hospitals, those who virtually exhibit no symptoms, others continue to be treated at the Nork Hospital, which continues to play a central role in the fight against Coronavirus. In the epidemiological scene, the role of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of Armenia continues to play a central role,” Torosyan said.
At the moment, there are 11 cases of pneumonia, only three of whom are in intensive care. Torosyan said that there is no threat to anyone’s life and that intensive care specialists continue to monitor their health 24/7.
Torosyan said that despite the fact that he considers the surge in the number of cases over the last few days considerably high [related to the two infection clusters without which the Minister estimated there would only be 20-25 confirmed cases], he wanted to touch on how they have managed to contain further transmission. “This main achievement is dependent on the isolation of patients and all those they have come into contact with. But this is a practice we will not be able to keep up indefinitely. We currently have more than 600 people in quarantine in different regions of Armenia. But our capacity for quarantining people is nearing its end and we should already resort to self-isolation as a preventative measure,” he said. Because experience has shown that people are not always taking the regimen of self-isolation seriously, the special session of parliament that convened tonight was meant to discuss additions to the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offenses to apply administrative or criminal liability in case of non-compliance with the requirements of quarantine or self-quarantine in a state of emergency, something that is applied in many countries of the world today, the Minister explained. “The citizen who risks public health should be held administratively accountable or if the consequences are dire, even criminal responsibility. I hope the law will be adopted in its second reading and I thank the Parliament for assembling at such a late hour.”
What to Do:
- Wash hands frequently: Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain social distancing: Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth: Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
- Practice respiratory hygiene: Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
- If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early: Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority. Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
Source: World Health Organization
8 p.m.: With the support of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, one month’s supply of food will be distributed to 4041 seniors living alone.
7 p.m.: According to the Ministry of Economy, an account that was set up to collect funds from individuals and organizations to support the government of Armenia in their effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has already received 1355 donations totaling 321,167,000 AMD ($662,844 US).
4:15 p.m.: Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) issued a statement that a number of Facebook accounts had been hacked, some by Azerbaijani hackers, who then used these accounts to spread misinformation about the spread of COVID-19 in Armenia. The NSS is urging social media users to use necessary security measures to protect their accounts and for everyone to follow official news only.
3 p.m.: According to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anna Naghdalyan an Armenian citizen who traveled to Krasnodar, Russia on March 11 from Armenia was found to be infected with COVID-19. This person is now in a special quarantine unit in a hospital in Krasnodar.
1:15 p.m.: Spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Alina Nikoghosyan says 112 of the 136 cases of COVID-19 in Armenia can be traced back to the two infection clusters [Etchmiadzin and the factory in Yerevan].
10 a.m.: According to the Armenian Unified Center, there are now 136 confirmed cases of COVID-19. No further details have been provided at this time.
4:20 p.m.: Speaker of the National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan wrote on his Facebook page that with his initiative and the consent of parliament members, monthly bonuses earmarked for parliamentarians for the month of March will be transferred to the treasury account supporting measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the Republic of Armenia. “I thank all parliamentary factions and independent parliamentarians for accepting my suggestion. I was also happy to learn that a number of parliamentarians had already made their individual contributions to the treasury account,” wrote Mirzoyan.
2 p.m.: In a press conference, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan said the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now 122. Seven additional cases since this morning are all related to the infection cluster from the factory [in Yerevan]. Torosyan said that they still expect the number of infections from the factory will grow, given the size of the factory. Presently, there are only 13 patients above the age of 60, which is considered the threshold after which complications are more likely, the Minister said.
11:30 a.m.: The Ministry of Health has confirmed that one of the 115 confirmed patients of COVID-19 infection in Armenia is a nurse who works at the Nork Infection Clinical Hospital. The nurse has been hospitalized, the patient’s health is satisfactory and does have pneumonia. The Minister is urging people to take into consideration medical staff working around-the-clock and follow instructions to stay home.
9 a.m.: Another five people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 115 in Armenia with one person recovered. According to the epidemiological analysis, 99 of the infected are directly related to the two infection clusters [Etchmiadzin and the factory in Yerevan].
9:30p.m: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Alina Nikoghosyan has just announced that eight new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. Armenia now has a total of 110 cases and one patient who has recovered. Epidemiological analysis shows that 90 of the cases are correlated with two of the primary infection clusters [Etchmiadzin and the factory in Yerevan].
6:40 p.m.: In an interview with Shant TV, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan provided updates on the current situation of COVID-19 in the country. He said that there are now 102 confirmed cases in the Armenia.
1:50 p.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Facebook status:
Dear Compatriots, On March 17, a 49-year-old patient with pulmonary edema, double pneumonia and respiratory failure was moved to the Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital from the Armenia Medical Center. It was naturally suspected that the patient might be infected with COVID-19. The test results were negative, refuting suspicions that the patient has COVID-19. Unfortunately despite the emergency medical care provided, the patient did not survive.
Given the current situation with coronavirus, I found it particularly necessary to state that the death of this person has nothing to do with the virus.
1:15 p.m.: The Ministry of Economy reported that Iran and Armenia have made some exceptions for the transportation of goods between the two countries that are of “economic importance.” The transfer will take place in the area between the administrative building of the Meghri land border crossing and the bridge, and under the supervision of the State Revenue Committee, Ministry of Health, and the National Security Service. Earlier, the transfer of some medical supplies was also allowed. According to the February 24 decision of the Government, some of the supplies include, respiratory masks, medical safety glasses, single use medical protective garments, disposable medical shoe covers, bandages, cdotton, diagnostic tests, ethyl alcohol, breathing apparatus, single and multiple use medical scrubs, surgical gloves, etc.
According to the March 17 decision of the Government, some of the supplies that can also be transferred between the two countries include non-sublimated sulfur, liquid chlorine, nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, chlorite, sulphites, ammonium nitrate, etc.
Armenia suspended its air and land communication with Iran on February 24, due to the spread of COVID-19 in that country.
11:20 a.m.: In a Facebook live, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan provided updates on the current situation of COVID-19 in the country. He said that there are now 84 confirmed cases of people infected with the virus and that these cases have their “important specificities.” He noted that yesterday, he had said that 70 percent of the cases are connected to the infection hub at Etchmiadzin and the factory [in Yerevan], but that today, this percentage has grown to 81 percent and that 99 percent of the new confirmed cases are from the factory. “Our method initially was to identify the patient and then isolate his/her sphere of contact. First, there was the case from Iran and if other people had followed the example of this patient from Iran, we would not have had such developments,” he said. Pashinyan went on to say that there have been no new cases from this branch of the infection [Iran] in the last ten days, thereby they have succeeded in stopping further transmission.
“We are hoping this method will still be effective for Etchmiadzin, where we have succeeded in slowing down transmission and we are now in the process of tracking down and isolating the infection sphere from the factory,” the Prime Minister said adding that the problems with Etchmiadzin and the factory started after people under surveillance, who had arrived from affected countries, did not follow the rules. “We also confirmed cases from Charentsavan, but these are cases with almost no spheres of contact,” Pashinyan said. “We have found out that these were people who had returned from France had limited contact with others.”
Pashinyan confirmed that there are currently 444 people in quarantine, and 799 in self-isolation. He said that he has been advised that 11 thousand liters of medicinal alcohol is being prepared, half of which will be used in the production of hand sanitizing gel [Alcogel]. There are three companies that are producing hand sanitizers at full capacity in Armenia and the Prime Minister said that he has information that in the coming days, a new plant will open, thereby a total of four companies will be producing hand sanitizers. Pashinyan said that in essence the shortage of hand sanitizers was the result of panic buying and this will be addressed shortly.
Regarding old age pensioners, the Prime Minister said that the government has taken measures to ensure that pensioners will have no need to go to the post office and wait in lines to receive their pension, as they are the most vulnerable group and the situation could be highly contagious for them. Employees of HayPost will personally visit these pensioners at home, wearing masks to hand-deliver their pensions.
About the health of infected patients, Pashinyan said that two have pneumonia, both do not have further complications.
The Prime Minister also said that more than 700 tests have been conducted to date and that the Ministry of Health has reassured that those patients who are in the high-risk age group, currently have no health-related complications.
Pashinyan said that the lesson learned is that the decisive factor is an individual’s personal, social responsibility. “I call on everyone to check their temperatures and if you have a temperature, simply self-isolate. The Ministry of Health has prepared an instructional video on how to self isolate, follow the instructions. We believe if we follow the rules we can keep the situation under control,” he said.
10:15 a.m.: In a Facebook post, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said that he has donated 100,000 AMD to support the fight against coronavirus.
He said that the Ministry of Finance has opened a bank account to support the Health Ministry’s efforts aimed at preventing and overcoming the infection.
Recipient: Central Treasury
Bank account number: 900005001947
In his post, Torosyan urged everyone making donations to indicate the following “Supporting the fight against coronavirus,” as the purpose of the transfer. The funds will be used to support medical staff, purchase medical supplies and equipment, and improve the facilities of medical centers.
9:50 p.m.: During a Facebook live, Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan presented the latest figures of COVID-19 in the country. He said there are an additional six people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and they are all connected to the factory [where one employee had contracted the virus on March 15.]. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 78. Torosyan stressed that 18 of these cases were discovered following testing of people who were in quarantine but had no symptoms. “The virus might have never even been discovered in these patients had we not tested them,” he said adding that they proactively and arbitrarily conducted the tests. “Chances are that if we had tested them on the 14th day, before their release, they would have already recovered. Similarly many other citizens might have had the virus and recovered without even knowing about it.”
Torosyan went on to say that generally, 95 percent of patients, if not more, do not exhibit any symptoms whatsoever, but were placed in quarantine because they had come from a severely affected country, or come into contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus and might have had a temperature for one day and then was totally fine. Looking at international experience and protocol, the Minister explained that there are countries where patients are not hospitalized and remain in house-quarantine until they exhibit symptoms, while in Armenia we still continue to hospitalize all confirmed patients and continue to quarantine everyone they came into contact with. “The reason why we do this is to intercept the spread. And I want to inform you that by the end of the day, we will have about 600 people quarantined. After that we can still quarantine another 100 people. But following that we will start to opt for self-quarantine,” Torosyan explained.
“To conclude, we have 78 confirmed cases, 18 are cases were discovered as a result of arbitrary testing and would have gone otherwise unnoticed and the pressing majority of patients have no symptoms, not even high temperatures and even if they do, it is only slightly over the average like 37.2, 36.6 degree centigrade. Two people have pneumonia but we have no updates on their situation because we have to wait seven days between x rays.”
06:00 p.m.: Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan announced on his Facebook page that there are another eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. All eight were already in quarantine. One of them is related to the Etchmiadzin hub and the other seven are related to the factory.
At this time, we have 72 confirmed cases, one recovered.
1:25 p.m.: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Alina Nikoghosyan announced in a Facebook post that there are 12 new registered cases of COVID-19 in Armenia. Six of the new cases are connected to the Etchmiadzin hub and the other six to the factory infection hub. According to the spokesperson, all 12 were already in isolation. Armenia currently has 64 confirmed cases with one recovered patient.
12 p.m.: During a press conference, the Chairman of the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition Gegham Gevorgyan announced that a working group has been created to monitor the prices and supplies of goods in Armenia. The Commission receives daily information from the State Revenue Committee and major business entities. Gevorgyan said that the amount of supplies is sufficient in Armenia, and that people are buying more than they may actually need because they are trying to avoid shopping every day. This consequently, is creating a shortage of supplies in some supermarkets, because businesses physically are not managing to bring in new supplies. He encouraged people to avoid doing unnecessary shopping.
Gevorgyan also spoke about the inflation of prices, especially the price of medicinal alcohol. According to Article 88 (4) of the Tax Code, the minimum sale price of one litre of 100 percent medicinal alcohol cannot be less than 6000 AMD, including VAT and excise tax (this came into on January 1 and had nothing to do with the spread of COVID-19 and was a requirement by the Eurasian Economic Union). Regarding the increase of flour prices, Gevorgyan noted that the price increase has to do with the fluctuation of the US dollar and Russian ruble.
Gevorgyan did not exclude that some business entities might use the opportunity and increase prices of food supplies. He went on saying that the Commission is monitoring activities not only in Yerevan but also in the regions with the help of regional administrations. Gevorgyan encouraged all business entities to be socially responsible and assured that they will initiate criminal proceedings, if and when necessary. Speaking about medical masks, Gevorgyan agreed that the price of masks has increased, mainly because the price of medical masks worldwide has increased (Armenia mainly imports medical masks from China and Russia).
Answering reporters’ questions, the Chairman of the Commission urged everyone to send them information when they see that certain businesses are unnecessarily increasing prices (which is mainly happening in small markets/shops). The Commission will respond within a day to those complaints (might take a little longer if the case is registered in regions).
11:35 a.m.: During a Facebook live, Prime Minister Pashinyan said that the government’s strategy today is as follows: As long as they have the opportunity, they will examine cases and isolate the contact sphere of those infected, but the fact is that they are hospitalizing people who are not in need of any kind of treatment. That is what they did with the very first case [March 1]. The patient spent 14 days in a hospital room without needing treatment for anything. On the 15th day, when his test was negative, he was able to return home. He technically could have been quarantined in his home with the precondition of not coming into contact with anyone for 14 days or being in limited contact. “If you look at the matter from this perspective, you understand that the Coronavirus is not as terrifying if we are talking about people below the age of 70 and with no chronic health conditions,” Pashinyan said.
The Prime Minister noted the importance of raising the level of civic responsibility, to understand that we might have the Coronavirus just like we have the flu several times a year but that everyone must have the responsibility to not jeopardize the health of close ones. If this was the case, then authorities could have allowed patients to self-quarantine at home without worrying that they can accidentally or intentionally infect others. “And here, despite the state of emergency in the country, instead of assigning police officers to stand in front of the doors of these patients, let us just agree to take greater responsibility, be more disciplined when following the rules. If this happens, the Coronavirus situation and the tension around it will subside,” he noted.
Pashinyan also said that it is very possible that the person who has recovered from the virus might develop antibodies and become immune to it at least for a certain period of time. Either way, this is a good opportunity for us to reconsider and change our ideas of coexistence, social and civic perceptions.
The Prime Minister spoke about the increased price of medicinal alcohol and said that the increase is because of the change in tax legislation. The minimal price of the unit of alcohol has increased and this is why there is a price hike. This had already come into effect before the coronavirus outbreak. “We do have a price hike regarding wheat, lentils, other grains… this is because of panic buying. I would like to call on the citizens to stop panic buying because we know that there is no shortage in warehouses. I’m told that business in larger stores has increased by 30-40 percent and decreased in smaller shops. Dear compatriots, do not forget about the small and medium businesses,” he said.
The situation of the financial market is stable given the positive growth the country had last year; reserves were replenished at a record high rate and the Central Bank has acquired an unprecedented amount of foreign currency. Regarding economic policy, Pashinyan said that the government does not want to rush making decisions. “As I said yesterday at the National Assembly, I’m against social benefits, which will weaken the economy. We should have development potential at the base of every Dram spent. We should make sure that as a result of any state assistance, these companies, these businesses will raise their competitiveness and become stronger and more self assured in their future steps,” noted Pashinyan.
“I want to say that in 2018-2019 Armenia has accumulated great potential for an economic restart and an economic revolution. This potential will be used to make sure we come out of this situation with a reinforced economy. The subtlety is in making informed decisions, decisions that are discussed and decisions that have strategic depth. We will have another advisory session today as well and will inform the public of our strategy to make sure the economy is in a beneficial position in the long- and short-term.”
00:10 a.m.: In a live Facebook address, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said that after an additional 50 tests were conducted (in total 105 tests were carried out today), there are another seven confirmed cases of coronavirus. Twelve of the cases from today are connected with the infection hub in Etchmiadzin. None of the new patients exhibited symptoms.
Torosyan said that health authorities conducted an “experiment” to test the spread of the virus in the group that they had quarantined and 12 of them tested positive for the virus. According to the Minister these are people who have not exhibited any symptoms or had health issues since they were quarantined (five days ago) and that continues to be the case to date. “This means that the virus is simply present in their organisms and the possibility of them passing on the virus to others is quite low,” he noted adding that this experiment shows that other than high temperature in some cases and in rare cases pneumonia (two in Armenia) most people don’t even have symptoms. “This does not mean that we should not carry out preventative measures. And announcing a state of emergency is specifically aimed at curbing the virus and protecting the elderly and people with secondary health issues,” Torosyan said.
“To sum up, earlier today we registered 15 new cases in addition to the 30 already registered yesterday and we have the seven new cases, which I’m announcing now. However 12 of these newly registered cases have no symptoms and they have not been hospitalized, they remain in quarantine,” Torosyan said. “A couple of the new cases are related to the factory infection hub registered yesterday and there are also a couple of new cases, the source of which and the contact sphere we are still working towards identifying.”
Thirty people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Armenia
11:30 p.m.: In his closing address in parliament, PM Pashinyan announced that there are 15 new cases and this highlights that the state of emergency is timely. “To go or not to go to work, yes go to work if you don’t have chronic health issues, if you are not over 60 or pregnant and if you don’t have the option of working from home,” he said urging citizens to check their temperature, to disinfect their surroundings, follow procedures for hygiene.
Pashinyan said: “We heard here today insinuations that the government has not done this or that right. Let us say that we have not, but 158 countries of the world have coronavirus, there are countries with obviously poor governance but let us look at some of the other countries like Norway (1256 cases, three deaths); the Netherlands (1135 cases, 20 deaths); Sweden (1040 cases, eight deaths), Switzerland, famous for its high standards (2217 cases, 14 deaths); Israel (213 cases); Ireland 170 cases, two deaths); Estonia 171 cases.”
Expanding aviation networks and making the country more appealing to tourists contributed perhaps to the situation, but Armenia cannot live in isolation, he said adding that their main goal is to now make sure they do everything in their power to prevent any deaths.
Pashinyan said that in 2019, nine people died in Armenia from H1N1, 30 people died of H1N1 in 2016, 50 people died of the disease in 2009 and no one really knows how many people were infected. He noted that Facebook was not so popular at the time and no one was taking photos of three people in a queue at a store and sharing it to social media saying the country is being destroyed. This is a global pandemic, he went on and countries that have no cases is not necessarily a good indication for them, this means they are isolated from the rest of the world.
“Let us register that we have stepped into new times with new rules and let us tie this reality to the logic of our revolution. It is clear that the old ways in the world no longer exist and let us make sure that we are not left under the weight of those old ways and let us create new opportunities for ourselves. Let us be attentive towards citizens above 60 years of age, let us try to avoid fatalities and not demonize the situation. Regarding the economic situation, our goal should not be to restore the status we had on February 29, 2020, we should make projections, think ahead to February 29 of next year and the year after. As a nation, country and economy we should increase our competitiveness. I call on everyone to keep calm, think clearly. All problems are solvable if we register that this is a crisis, which means it is time for hard work. Let us work and make sure that our efforts are effective. Health to all.”
11:00 p.m.: Armenia’s Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan has announced on his Facebook page that Armenia has 15 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, some of the patients are already in quarantine, and the extent of their contact with others is being clarified.
Armenia currently has 45 confirmed cases, 1 of whom has recovered.
As of March 16, 22:00, 694 coronavirus tests have been carried out in Armenia, with 45 positive results; 87 patients are currently hospitalized at Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital.
9:30 p.m.: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health posted the following on her Facebook page: The Ministry of Health is recruiting volunteers to carry out various activities due to the coronavirus outbreak:
– Students from the medical university; nurses
– Data entry clerks
– Psychologists, social workers and others with relevant specialties and skills
There is also a need for volunteer drivers and technicians who are willing to help with the delivery of medication and nutrition.
You can call the following numbers: 098 86 05 89, 077 37 11 15
9:00 p.m.: Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan issued the following statement on his Facebook page: In response to the questions raised in parliament regarding the number of artificial respirators in the country and the suggestion that “the public needs to know that these are not enough,” I wish to inform the public of the following:
– At the moment, there are 334 artificial respirators in Armenia.
– At the moment, we have 15 respirators on reserve specifically for potential coronavirus patients.
– In 3-4 days, we will have an additional 11 respirators we have brought from Russia.
– In 10-15 days, we will have an additional 10 respirators, brought from China.
8:30 p.m.: The Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II issued a statement regarding the spread of coronavirus in Armenia, urging priests and parishioners to be cautious and avoid public gatherings. The statement also says that until Holy Thursday, Church service hours will be from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Liturgies will be conducted without the participation of people, wedding ceremonies will not be performed, while baptisms will be performed when necessary. The Catholicos also urged people to avoid organizing large funerals and spiritual gatherings that can be attended by a lot of people.
To curb the spread of the COVID-19, the European Union is planning to ban the travel of foreign nationals within the Union. Exceptions may be only in emergency situations.
7 p.m.: During a special session of the National Assembly, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed parliament and explained the government’s position regarding the decision to call a state of emergency regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
He said that the biggest concern they have at the moment is the factory in Yerevan where approximately 500 people work and where an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The Prime Minister said that he believes they have been able to identify all those people that this person has come into contact with.
Pashinyan also restated that Armenian citizens will be able to return to the country, except for those who are in countries where the epidemic is severe.
During his address, the Prime Minister said that the most restrictive measures pertain to the media, however, he said that this refers only to information disseminated about the coronavirus and nothing else, and all news should reference official sources only.
Pashinyan noted that there are also restrictions regarding public gatherings; all gatherings across the country of more than 20 people are forbidden. He said that after the parliament session, as is foreseen by law, the Government will address the nation and present not only the latest news but also the action plan.
“The fact that we have imposed a state of emergency in the country also means we have a crisis,” Pashinyan said adding that their strategic approach is to come out of this crisis healthy and stronger economically and socially. According to the Prime Minister, predictions show that in 2020, as a result of this crisis, the world economy will lose about 2 trillion dollars. “But this also means that new spaces will open in the economic sphere,” he said adding that naturally, Armenia’s economy will also be impacted but that their strategy will be to increase Armenia’s presence in the newly opened spaces and maximize economic activity in the country. Pashinyan said that the government will do everything in its power to make sure that the state of emergency, which will last till April 14, is wholly justified and effective in fighting coronavirus.
Question: MP Edmon Marukyan, Leader of Bright Armenia parliamentary faction
Why is the prime minister not the Special Commissioner overseeing the state of emergency? Will the tests be available in the regions of Armenia and where should people ask for them? Does the government, other than what is foreseen by the state of emergency document, have a plan of action to address the economic crisis, like people not being able to pay their utilities or rents, will there be a government subsidy program?
And it is not yet clear what is allowed or prohibited. People are asking, can they go out in the streets or it is not clear when and where gatherings of less than 20 people are allowed. Or is it fine for nightclubs to be open and for people to go dancing?
Answer: Nikol Pashinyan
The commissioner has the responsibility to determine the areas where restaurants or entertainment facilities are not allowed to operate. Meaning if at a given point there is no decision to shut down businesses in a certain area, then they are allowed to operate.
The government is trying to find a balance between people’s heath and their economic situation. That is why we have not made the decision to shut down all businesses, not to deprive the people in the industry of their income. Such a decision will be made in an operative way depending on the situation.
Why is the Deputy Prime Minister the Special Commissioner and not me? As I’ve already said, what we have done is change the status of the already existing working group (headed by Avinyan) fighting the spread of the virus.
As for having the tests in the regions, what is important here is not to only have them available but also having the people who would administer them professionally. Today we only have three laboratories, all in Yerevan, the results of whose tests are trustworthy. The procedure here does not change, wherever the person is, he/she will have to contact the police or the emergency services and the available medical staff will determine if the person needs to be tested or not. I’ll give you my own personal example, I saw in the video that I was shaking hands with a person confirmed to have the virus, I checked my temperature and saw that it was high but the Minister was saying the possibility of me having the virus is zero point something.
Question: MP, Anush Begloyan
Why declare a state of emergency now and not sooner like other countries? What were the critical facts that made that decision applicable today?
Answer: Nikol Pashinyan
The number of infected in the country has quadrupled in the last couple of days. It is this dynamic that made us believe that the usual measures are not sufficient. And we found out yesterday that people who knew they were in the contact zone had gone into hiding for days and security forces had to seek them out. The other concern is that we had a case at a factory where 500 people work. Also, days ago we had a school child test positive. These are indicators that emergency measures are needed. And as you know, we have restricted movement from the city of Etchmiadzin since yesterday and discovered 129 people with high temperatures attempting to leave the city. We can ask them to return home and self-quarantine, but they can also refuse to do so. In cases like this and similar to the woman in Etchmiadzin, who even though was registered as being at risk, did not collaborate, therefore the government needs tools to take action. The Constitution states that you can impose a state of emergency when there is a threat to the constitutional order. By doing this we are restricting the constitutional rights of our citizens and need to have serious reasons for doing so; the Constitution says it has to be an imminent threat.
Question: MP, Arusyak Julhagyan
Many would like to know given the situation, what will happen to the Constitutional Referendum?
Answer: Nikol Pashinyan
The law says that there can be no referendum if a state of emergency has been declared in the country. The referendum will take place once the emergency situation has been lifted no sooner than 50 and no later than 65 days later.
Question: MP, Gor Gevorgyan
In case the number of people having the virus and those of exposed grows exponentially, do we have the appropriate health facilities to provide the services in the same quality as we do now?
Answer: Nikol Pashinyan
We have a plan to accommodate up to 800 to 1000 people at this point. In mid-February we started the process of moving all patients from the Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital to other facilities, freeing up the hospital for only coronavirus patients. We have a second similar hospital 100% ready as well. We also have a 3rd and 4th reserve facility. All these four facilities together will be able to accomodate 100-1500 people. The same is true for quarantine. In addition to the 300 plus people currently in quarantine, we have the potential to quarantine an additional 400 people.
8 p.m.: The Armenian President’s office issued a statement welcoming the government’s decision to declare a state of emergency and thanking healthcare workers for their efforts. In the statement, President Armen Sarkissian mentioned a number of principles that need to be prioritized while fighting coronavirus: the government, citizens, business community, non-governmental organizations, and all citizens need to have a clear strategy on how to fight the virus. He went on to speak about the importance of being organized and disciplined, following procedures and trying to minimize contact with other people. And finally, the President mentioned the importance of the sense of responsibility towards one another.
6:30 p.m.: At a press conference, Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said that as of yesterday evening, there are 30 cases of coronavirus, plus one person recovered. Torosyan said that the condition of all the patients is stable, two of them have pneumonia but there is no threat to their lives.
The Health Minister said that as of this morning, 380 people have been quarantined. That number will most probably increase to 420-430 people, but they will make an official statement when that happens. He said that an additional 20 people have been tested (as per the latest information at hand), but he suspects that number will reach 50-60 people.
5:30 p.m.: Returning from a one-hour break, the government session reconvened.
With a unanimous vote, the Government of Armenia decided to impose a 30-day state of emergency in the country starting March 16. The decision will come into effect from the moment of the publication of the official text of the document. The parliament of Armenia is then by law required to assemble for a special session within four hours of the publication. The parliament can then vote to cancel the state of emergency.
All citizens of Armenia and their family members (who are not citizens of Armenia) will be allowed to come into the country. Also, those with special residency permits, representatives of diplomatic missions based in Armenia and their family members, and representatives of foreign states who are in Armenia on official visits will be allowed in the country. Those who have been in highly affected countries, identified by the Special Commission, in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter the country (except the representatives of diplomatic missions and international organizations and their family members).
The exit of Armenian citizens as well as foreign nationals through land borders (except those carrying out cargo transportation) will be prohibited. All citizens who wish to travel via air outside of Armenia are allowed as long as the host country does not have any specific restrictions for the citizens of Armenia. Foreign nationals may also leave the territory of Armenia via air.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said he had a telephone conversation with President Bako Sahakyan of Artsakh. Taking into consideration the situation, they are urging citizens to travel to Artsakh or Armenia only if absolutely necessary. He said that the temperature of all travelers will be taken at the checkpoint and if they present with a high temperature, they will have to return to their place of residence.
Regarding financial systems and the economy, Pashinyan said that Armenia’s banking system is stable with plenty of foreign currency reserves. He also said that the Central Bank of Armenia is prepared to assist banks and that each individual bank will have the flexibility to extend payments on loans for businesses and individuals.
3:00 p.m.: During a special Government session today, Armenia’s government discussed the call for a state of emergency in the country starting from March 16 (5 p.m.) to April 16, 2020 (9 a.m.). [There was some discrepancy with the start date of the state of emergency in later discussions during the session. EVN Report will clarify and adjust accordingly]. According to Article 120 of the Republic of Armenia’s Constitution, the State of Emergency is in effect immediately upon being declared by the Government. The State of Emergency triggers a National Assembly session under Article 48 of the Constitutional Law on Parliamentary Procedure. Parliament has four hours to secure a quorum, after which the session is in order, even without the numbers for a quorum. The session can cancel the state of emergency.
The State of Emergency will be overseen by a Special Commission (Superintendent’s Office), which will be led by Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan.
Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan read a statement regarding the necessity of the declaration of a state of emergency. Below are the major points raised in that statement:
Considering the spread of the COVID-19 in Armenia and especially in the city of Etchmiadzin, the importance of protecting the public health, prioritizing the implementation of measures that would stop the spread of the virus, and taking into account that the spread of the virus will further increase if the necessary preventive measures are not taken into account, the government declared a state of emergency.
In a statement, Badasyan said that the Article 120 of the Constitution allows the state to declare the state of emergency if there is an imminent threat to the constitutional order and to the well being of its citizens. He also said that preventive measures will be more difficult to implement if the number of infected people increases, which consequently, will undermine the protection of citizens and limit the protection of their individual freedoms
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan will head the Special Commission (Superintendent’s Office). The Chief of Staff of the PM’s Office, Ministers of Health, Emergency Situations, Economy, Finance, and Territorial Administration and Infrastructures, as well as the Chief of Police, Head of the National Security Service, and a number of inspection bodies will be included in the paretatun. Measures implemented during the state of emergency and the temporary limits placed on individual rights and freedoms will be applied to the entire territory of Armenia or the specific territories identified by the Special Commission.
During the period of state of emergency it will be prohibited to organize and participate in protests, public events (including religious events, concerts, exhibitions), celebrations and commemorative events (including birthdays, engagements, weddings and funerals). The draft law on the state of emergency also sets special procedures for the entrance of people and transportation to Armenia through all of its state borders. According to the restrictions, all citizens of Armenia can enter the territory of Armenia, people coming from countries that Armenia’s Ministry of Health has identified as being in serious epidemic situations will be prohibited from entering the territory of Armenia (except the representatives of diplomatic missions, international organizations, and other instances identified by the Special Commission).
All persons entering the territory of Armenia will immediately undergo a special examination at the check-point, and if any symptoms of the infection are detected, hospitalization, isolation (self-isolation) or other restrictive measures will be implemented. If people entering the territory of Armenia refuse to undergo medical examination, hospitalization, isolation (self-isolate), the Special Commission may temporarily isolate those people to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as to organize their examination and treatment.
Special checkpoints may be placed to ensure the implementation of the state of emergency. Medical check-ups at those checkpoints may be carried out by medical staff, the Ministry of Health, and representatives of inspection bodies.
During the entire period of the state of emergency, classes in all of state educational institutions as well as international educational institutions will be suspended.
It is prohibited to send packages to the military units of the Defense Ministry, and to have visitations. Having visitations and sending packages to penitentiary institutions, mental health care centers, as well as to centers providing social services to senior citizens and children will also be prohibited. According to the curfew, the activities of public catering facilities, shopping and entertainment centers in specific communities can be suspended. Further measures can be implemented by curfew, if necessary.
According to the text of the state of emergency document, read by Justice Minister Rustam Badasyan at the beginning of the government session, individuals posting on social media platforms and media organizations, when writing or reporting about COVID19, will be obliged to refer to official sources only. When these requirements are not adhered to, they will need to be immediately removed.
PM Nikol Pashinyan clarified that with the formation of a Special Commission on the state of emergency/curfew, the government is changing the status of the Task Force for Coronavirus Prevention.
After discussing more details of the state of emergency, the government session took a one hour break. The final details will be clarified at that point.
1:00 p.m.: Speaker of Armenia’s National Assembly (NA), Ararat Mirzoyan said in a Facebook post that he has already spoken with the heads of parliamentary factions and asked them to prepare parliamentarians from their respective factions for a possible special parliamentary session.
Mirzoyan also published the relevant article of the NA Rules of Procedure, Article 48, which sets the procedure for convening and holding a special session in case of a state of emergency.
Article 48. Procedure for Convening and Holding a Special Sitting in case of a Declaration of a State of Emergency
1. In case of a declaration of a state of emergency, a special sitting of the National Assembly shall be immediately convened by virtue of law.
2. If, within four hours of the promulgation of the Government’s resolution on declaring a state of emergency, the number of registered Deputies is not sufficient for the quorum of the sitting, then the sitting starts irrespective of whether there is or isn’t eligibility.
3. During the debate of the issue:
1) the Prime Minister or a representative of the Government shall take the floor with the main report, whom, after a speech, may be asked questions;
2) there shall be no co-report;
3) in the course of a debate, only one representative from the standing committees and factions may take the floor.
4. If, before the completion of the debate of the issue, the legality of the sitting:
1) is provided, the head or secretary of the faction may submit a draft resolution of the National Assembly on the abolition of a state emergency or any of the events foreseen by a legal regime of the state of emergency. The decision of the faction is submitted with the draft. The draft shall be put to a vote without discussion immediately after the concluding speech. The resolution shall be adopted and announced as the prescribed procedure by parts 4 and 5 of Article 107 of the Rules of Procedure. If the resolution is not adopted, then such a draft can be submitted no earlier than a month. After the voting, the officer presiding the sitting shall declare the special sitting concluded;
2) is not provided, the presiding officer shall declare the special sitting concluded.
11:15 a.m.: PM Pashinyan went live on Facebook, providing further updates on the situation. He confirmed that of the 30 people infected, 20 can be traced back to the case in Etchmiadzin. He said that they have tested a number of people and the Minister of Health hopes to be able to contain further transmission of the virus. The government will be having an extraordinary session at 15:00 local time, which will be livestreamed to discuss the possibility of calling for a State of Emergency.
What pertains to the situation in Etchmiadzin (roads being monitored), Pashinyan said that 129 citizens have had high temperatures and were asked to return home. He said that he would like to present an honor to the very first person with coronavirus [who arrived in Armenia from Tehran and was confirmed to have the virus on March 1] whose sense of social responsibility stopped the spread of the virus. But the most gratitude should go to the medical staff in Armenian who are on the forefront of fighting the virus.
The Prime Minister said that since Friday, they have started discussions about how to ensure that the economy will not be impacted adversely and they will hold another session today at noon in that regard.
To date, 300 people have been quarantined and authorities are preparing spaces for more to be quarantined. Pashinyan called on citizens to keep checking their temperatures, but to also not panic if they have high temperature, he himself had a high temperature when he decided to get tested for the second time and yet the results of the test were negative.
Pashinyan said it is estimated that Armenia has enough food supplies for a month without any imports, however going a month without imports is not likely. He said that they know that many companies and organizations have found themselves in a difficult financial situation and that they are discussing ways to alleviate the financial strain.
10:30 a.m.: The Yerevan Municipality released the following statement:
From March 17, with the intention of curtailing the of spread of coronavirus and on the recommendation of the Ministry of Health, the following measures are being put into place:
– The “One Window” office in the main building of Yerevan Municipality (Argishti 1) will be closed.
– Citizen applications will be handled at the municipal building at 1/3 Buzand Street.
– Citizens’ receptions by department heads and administrative district staff will be stopped.
– Municipal and administrative staff will not engage in any kind of meetings, meetings, events, unless they are conducted remotely.
– All administrative and municipal hearings are postponed.
– We urge citizens to use the online tools available on the municipality’s official website to make payments and access applications.
– For applications, go to the following website: http://arcanc.yerevan.am/en/fast-app/
The statement also included hotlines in the Yerevan municipality as well as in all administrative districts.
Yerevan municipality hotline 1-05, open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For emergency situations, call 1-08, always open
Other administrative districts:
Achapnyag +(374 11) 518-008, Avan +(374 11) 518-111, Arabgir +(374 11) 518-188, Davtashen +(374 11) 518-288, Erebuni +(374 11) 518-388, Center district +(374 11) 518-488, Malatia-Sebastia +(374 11) 518-588, Nor Nork +(374 11) 518-688, Nork Marash +(374 11) 518-718, Nubarashen +(374 11) 518-738, Shengavit +(374 11) 518-808, Kanaker Zeytun +(374 11) 518-889
8:40 a.m.: Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan announced that there are two more confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 30 people infected. One case is connected to Etchmiadzin (this person had already been quarantined). The second is connected to a case from yesterday. One person has fully recovered.
8:17 a.m.: Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan announced that a charter plane bringing Armenian citizens home from Italy arrived in Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport. All passengers were provided with protective gear and upon arrival were placed in a 14-day quarantine in an undisclosed location.
8:15 a.m.: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in a FB live informed people that his second coronavirus test came back negative. He is already back in Yerevan. He said that today the government will be making a decision about whether or not they will be declaring a state of emergency in the country. In the meantime, he urged citizens to follow instructions by the authorities, in particular the health ministry.
Pashinyan said that as of last night, there have been no new cases. The number of infected is holding at 28 people at the moment, but one of those infected is a person from Yerevan, who works in a company. They are now in the process of assessing who this person has come into contact with to isolate them.
The Prime Minister said that in the next two hours the government will convene and even if a state of emergency is called, he assured citizens that not much will change, but it will require stricter measures in hotspots like Etchmiadzin. He reiterated the measures in place for the city – only three routes open out of 27 and anyone traveling on those routes will be stopped and tested. Those found to have a temperature will be required to self-quarantine in their homes until appropriate measures are taken.
He asked citizens to pay special attention to those over 70 years of age and those who have chronic illnesses because they are especially vulnerable. He urged all those who fall into those groups to stay home
Regarding potential shortage of goods, Pashinyan said that at the moment there is no reason to be concerned and to avoid panic shopping. He said that if the government feels that there are any problems, they will let people know.
And finally, the Prime Minister noted that international markets will no doubt be affected and we will need to find ways to come out of this positively believing in the entrepreneurial spirit of the Armenian people.
11:23 p.m.: Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan wrote on his FB page that the «Atlantis European Airways» charter flight from Rome has taken off bringing to Yerevan Armenian citizens from different parts of Italy who wished to return.
The Armenian Embassy in Italy has constantly been in touch with the passengers while organizing their return. The passengers were provided with the necessary protective gear and are accompanied by medical staff, writes Avinyan. Upon landing, all passengers of the flight will remain in a compulsory 14 day quarantine.
22:00: In a Facebook live, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that there are two more confirmed coronaviruses cases in Armenia, bringing the total to 28 people infected in the country. The second test of the very first patient (from March 1) came back negative. The PM also announced that starting from 23:00 tomorrow evening, residents of Etchmiadzin will be on lockdown. Only three routes out of 27 leading out of the city will be open, anyone on those routes will have their temperatures tested at checkpoints.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that starting from 23:00 tomorrow evening, residents of Etchmiadzin will be on lockdown. Only three routes out of 27 leading out of the city will be open, anyone on those routes will have their temperatures tested at checkpoints.
He went on to say that tomorrow, a special session of government will take place to look at what additional measures must be taken. The Prime Minister recalled the H1N1 virus back in 2009, when approximately 50 people died, but there was not the same kind of panic. He said that it was most likely because news was not being released and that users of social media platforms were not as widespread
Speaking about not closing the borders on time or quarantining everyone who came from affected countries would mean that tonight, upon the arrival of the charter flight from Rome full of citizens from one of the hotspots in the world, the country would not have any place to quarantine them, and might have had to enforce self-quarantine in their homes.
He said that authorities have the situation under control and everyone should work together to combat the situation. “As you know, I’m in self-isolation with my family in Sevan, the first time it was because my wife Anna had been in Brazil. We were tested and the tests came back negative, but now as you know, we have a new case in Meghri and it has been confirmed that I have personally met that citizen during the campaign. I have taken another test and if it is negative I will return to work tomorrow,” the Prime Minister said.
Regarding the April 5 referendum, Pashinyan said that nothing is more important than public health. For this reason, the government will have a discussion in the coming days and depending on the situation with the pandemic, they will take a corresponding decision. The government will also discuss the possibility of announcing a “state of emergency” tomorrow in some areas of the country.
The Prime Minister said that in his opinion, the main issue must be social responsibility, everyone must be thoughtful and that is why they are making sure to inform the public of all the developments. “We even discussed whether or not we should tell the public if my family has taken the test again before the results are clear,” he said.
He reminded the residents of Etchmiadzin that starting at 23:00 only three roads will be open out of the city and there will be surveillance on these roads. Citizens with high temperature will be asked to return home. Pashinyan said that regardless if he is in Yerevan or not, the government will continue its works and discuss the necessary future steps.
Pashinyan promised to make public the results of his test at whatever time of the night they arrive.
9:00 p.m.: Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan announced in a Facebook live that he has been in touch with the Mayor of Etchmiadzin and all major gatherings in the city such as weddings, engagement parties and baptisms have been canceled. A few events have taken place in the city and those events were monitored by the Ministry of Health. Avinyan also said that the Ministry of Health will soon have rapid tests, which will allow for a primary diagnosis of Covid-19 within about 15 minutes. These rapid tests will mainly be utilized at checkpoints at the Zvartnots international Airport. Avinyan also spoke about yesterday’s government session to discuss the social and economic impact of the Coronavirus. The session discussed in particular the impact on the service industry of the country. The government will in a short time draw up an action plan to ease the negative economic impact of the virus.
Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister also mentioned that starting tomorrow arrangements will be made to organize the work of governmental institutions remotely when possible. According to Avinyan, mothers and pregnant women will be added to the list of employees working remotely. Avinyan also advised the private sector to make remote working arrangements for their employees and citizens to use already existing online systems like e-cadaster, inrequest, e-payments.
Speaking about the flight from Rome, expected later today at 9:30 p.m., Avingyan said that all the passengers of the plane will be quarantined for 14 days and the same holds true for anyone coming from Italy, no matter how they enter the country or even if the flight is not coming directly from Italy.
8:30 p.m.: The MBG Hospitality Group has announced that it will close all its restaurants until March 23 due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19. The company’s chain of restaurants include Vostan Restaurant, Tsirani Home – Restaurant, Chinar Restaurant, Hans & Franz, Alaska by Hans & Franz and Louis Charden. The company is encouraging people to stay home noting that each is responsible for the health of others. They will, however, be providing free home delivery and their drivers will be using protective gloves and masks.
8:15 p.m.: Armenia’s Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan announced that there are three new cases of coronavirus. Two of them are linked to the case in Etchmiadzin and the third is a person who recently returned from Italy and is from the southern city of Meghri. This brings the total number of infected to 26. The Health Minister also said that 577 tests have been carried out; 300 people are in quarantine and all those who have come into contact with the new case have been isolated.
2:20 p.m.: The Ministry of Health announces that the results of 52 new Coronavirus tests have come back: 49 of those tests are negative, however, there are three new confirmed cases. This brings the number of infected in Armenia to 23. All of the three new cases are related to the Etchmiadzin infection hub and the patients were already in isolation. The test results of one potential case is expected later in the day, if negative, the patient will be allowed to go home.
The health status of the earlier 21 confirmed patients including the child is satisfactory. Two patients have pneumonia but their condition is not life-threatening.
2 p.m.: Two of Yerevan’s shopping malls, Dalma Garden and Yerevan Mall have announced that they will be closed from March 16 – 23. Yerevan Mall, however, assured its Carrefour supermarket will stay open.
13:40 p.m.: Arayik Harutyunyan, Armenia’s Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport announced that following an advisory meeting, the Ministry has taken a number of decisions to ensure the continuity of education in the country.
- Guidelines on how to disinfect schools will be prepared for Armenia’s regional administrative districts. The guideline will also include lists of companies that specialize in disinfection and companies producing disinfectants.
- Online platforms will be organized to ensure the continuity of educational processes in the country.
- Employees of the Ministry who have vulnerabilities will be identified and their work will be organized remotely.
- Stricter measures will be employed at the Ministry starting March 16, including checking the temperature of employees and imposing stricter sanitation measures.
- It has been instructed that in collaboration with museums and theaters, online programs be organized to ensure the cultural education of students.
12:50 p.m.: The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Alina Nikoghosyan has confirmed that one of the Coronavirus patients who tested positive on March 14, is a school child. The child has been hospitalized.
12:30 p.m.: The 75-person staff of “Hayaeronautic” CJSC («Հայաէրոնավիգացիա» ՓԲԸ), the company responsible for the safety of aviation in Armenia, has self-isolated in the company’s administrative building at Zvartnots International Airport, after a staff member from Etchmiadzin was diagnosed with COVID-19. The decision to self-isolate was made in conjunction with the Ministry of Health, the Civil Aviation Committee and management of “Hayaeronautic” CJSC.
The company’s staff includes aeronautical engineers, engineering and technical staff. The company’s CEO Arthur Gasparyan is also in the building and will continue to work there in self-isolation. An official statement from the company notes they have all the necessary resources and have organized the work and rest of their employees for the initial 14 days of quarantine.
10:30 a.m.: In a Facebook post, Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan has said that the Coronavirus Prevention Task Force has instructed government agencies to ensure that some of their employees work remotely in the next ten days if/whenever possible. This pertains in particular, to government employees who are 60 years of age and above, have diabetes, heart or respiratory health issues.
1:00 a.m.: In a Facebook post, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan called on religious organizations to suspend services and ceremonies in the country until the threat of the Coronavirus is eliminated. The Minister pointed out that in South Korea and Armenia’s neighboring Iran the virus spread “explosively” during religious services. “The people’s health is above everything,” concluded Torosyan.
March 14 [updated]
Twenty people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Armenia
Armenia’s Health Minister Arsen Torosyan announced this evening that two more people have been confirmed to be infected, bringing the total number to 19 plus another potential case. According to authorities therefore, the total number in the country is, in fact, 20 infected. These latest two cases are related yet again to the engagement party that took place in Etchmiadzin.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his wife Anna Hakobyan have tested negative for COVID-19. As a reminder, they were tested as a precaution because Hakobyan had been in Brazil a week earlier visiting the wife of Brazil’s president. However, there are another two confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infected to 17 in the country, while 200 people continue to be in quarantine. Of all those infected, 11 are from Etchmiadzin, all of whom were infected at an engagement party. The Prime Minister said that Etchmiadzin is considered under risk and appealed to the residents to exercise caution and keep themselves in self-isolation. At this time, authorities believe they have been able to contain the virus in that town.
The PM said that all those citizens who are arriving in Yerevan from affected countries will either be taken into quarantine or will be isolated in their homes. He also thanked citizens of Armenia for not giving into panic, but to continue to exercise caution, to remain in their homes until further instruction.
Armenia’s Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan confirmed in a Facebook post that there are two more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number to 15 in the country. These people had come into contact with the woman, who after arriving from Italy, had come down with a fever yet went to an engagement party in the town of Etchmiadzin. After she and two others tested positive for the virus, health officials conducted a further 38 tests of all those who had come into contact with her to try and contain the spread. It was from this last batch of testing, that the two cases were registered.
Armenia’s Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Arayik Harutyunyan has announced the suspension of all cultural institutions until March 23 in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The list includes theaters, concert halls, museums and libraries.
According to the spokesperson of Zvartnots International Airport, a number of airlines have cancelled flights to Yerevan. They include Ryanair’s Yerevan-Milan, Yerevan-Rome flights; Armenia Airlines’ Yerevan-Lyon, Yerevan-Tel Aviv flights; Qatar Airways’ Doha-Yerevan flight; Belavia Airlines’ Minsk-Yerevan flight; Flydubai’s Yerevan-Dubai; Pegas Fly’s Sochi-Yerevan flight.
March 13 [updated]
Thirteen people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Armenia
Armenia has confirmed another five cases of COVID-19. Two of those are among the first group of citizens who have been in quarantine since March 1. Upon further testing today, the two were found to be infected and will be transferred to hospital. One other person in quarantine will continue to remain there, while the remaining 28 people (who tested negative) will be allowed to return home. The other two citizens who tested positive for COVID-19 are from Etchmiadzin. They were infected by a woman who had traveled to Italy and upon her return took part in an engagement party. The fifth is a person who had just returned from France. In a live address on Facebook, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that everyone must be extremely diligent and avoid any kind of gathering.
The Prime Minister also spoke about news that the Brazilian president had been infected by COVID-19, which has now been refuted. We reported earlier that Anna Hakobyan, the wife of Prime Minister Pashinyan had met with the wife of the Brazilian president on March 7. Pashinyan and his wife are now in Sevan in self-quarantine and will be tested tomorrow as a precaution.
Following a closed-door government session today, it was decided that all educational institutions in Armenia will shut down until at least March 23, 2020.
In a Facebook live, Minister Arsen Torosyan announced that two of the 57 people that were quarantined a day earlier, tested positive for coronavirus, which brought the total number of infected people to eight. The Minister also said that 31 people that have been under a 14-day mandatory quarantine since March 1 (when the first case was confirmed), were tested again today and that the results will be available in the evening. If test results come back negative, they will return to their homes. Speaking about the importance of social responsibility, Torosyan urged those citizens who recently travelled from areas affected by the virus or develop symptoms of COVID-19 to contact the Ministry of Health or local polyclinics. He also recommended elders and people with preexisting health conditions, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, to limit their contact with other people.
A charter flight from Rome is scheduled to arrive Yerevan on Sunday, March 15. The Chair of Armenia’s Civil Aviation Committee announced today that they will make sure that all passengers of the charter flight do not interact with any other passengers and will be placed in quarantine.
Moving forward, the Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yerevan will now only serve those patients suspected of COVID-19 and those infected with the virus. Patients with other infectious diseases have been transferred to other hospitals.
According to the spokesperson of the Health Ministry, five people were taken to the Vanadzor Infectious Diseases Hospital today with certain ailments. They are now being tested.
Armenia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan announced tonight that Armenia and Georgia will temporarily suspend the movement of citizens between their two countries for ten days starting on March 14. He noted that the two countries will ensure the unimpeded entry of citizens who wish to return to their country. Restrictions do not apply to cargo transport. Avinyan said that they are taking this step to ensure public safety.
It was confirmed early this evening that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has contracted COVID-19. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s wife, Anna Hakobyan, recently returned from Brazil after meeting with Bolsonaro’s wife on March 6, 2020.
Six people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Armenia
Two people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Armenia today, bringing the total number of infected to six. They are all in quarantine, along with everyone they have been in contact with.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who had taken a leave of absence, announced that he is temporarily suspending campaigning for the upcoming Constitutional Referendum and will return to work to assess the situation. Tomorrow, a special session of government will take place. The education ministry also announced that all educational institutions in the country will shut down tomorrow. No re-opening date was given. Also, the task force coordinating efforts to prevent the spread of the virus decided that all Armenian citizens being evacuated from Italy on a government-chartered plane will be placed under a 14-day quarantine upon their arrival to the country.
Fifty-seven people who have been in close contact with the three coronavirus patients have been isolated. This brings the total number of people quarantined in Armenia to 88. To date, 262 tests have been carried out in the Republic with four confirmations. All four are at the Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital.
Three new cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed. Two are citizens of Armenia (45 and 27 years of age), one a citizen of Italy, 51, who works in Armenia. All three have arrived from Italy.
One of the Armenian citizens has pneumonia, the other two infected with the virus do not have any health ailments. All three have been accounted for since their arrival in the country.
In a Facebook live, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan responded to criticism about why all flights from Italy were not suspended. He said that the government has discussed the possibility on several occasions and came to the conclusion that potential virus carriers could also enter from countries neighboring Italy like France and Austria, since there have not been any internal restrictions in place within EU countries. “With the same logic, we should also suspend flights with other European countries especially since the virus is also spreading in Europe,” he said.
The Prime Minister went on to say that Ryanair has now decided to suspend flights from Italy. He also noted that all those in quarantine at the Golden Palace Hotel in the resort town of Tsaghgadzor are doing well, including the person who contracted the virus on March 1 after traveling to Iran. He urged citizens to remain calm and follow COVID-19 prevention measures issued by the Ministry of Health. He also emphasized that all three patients, like the first one back on March 1, did not contract the virus abroad, but rather while traveling in other countries.
During a session of the COVID-10 governmental task force, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that Armenia’s government will extend and tighten restrictions on the Armenian-Iranian border. He also said that they will reinstate a temporary visa regime with Iran. He called on Armenians to limit their travel to those countries where the virus was spreading including Italy.
One person confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in Armenia
Armenia registers its first case of COVID-19. The 29-year-old citizen of Armenia, who arrived from Tehran via air on February 28 with his wife, came down with a temperature a few hours after his arrival and was transported to hospital by ambulance.
The Health Minister said that everyone who has come into contact with the person upon his arrival has been identified and quarantined. Government officials assure a nervous nation that they do not present an immediate risk to the public.
Armenia’s government closed the border with Iran on February 24 after there was an outbreak of coronavirus in that country. However, as Torosyan explained during the press briefing, Armenia’s government will not deny any citizen of Armenia the right of return. Therefore, two flights carrying citizens of Armenia arrived in Zvartnots from Iran this past week. Torosyan said that a health ministry expert accompanied the passengers from Tehran to Yerevan, conducted examinations, provided them with masks and followed their progress. All passengers were examined again upon arrival and escorted out of the airport under the supervision of health officials.
Torosyan said that to date, 117 coronavirus tests have been conducted with only one positive result.
The Minister also explained the border with Iran will remain open for Armenian citizens and that since 20 percent of all imports to Armenia come through Iran, transport of cargo is being allowed, but human contact has been brought to the minimum. Customs officials have protective gear and there is 24 hour police surveillance. Cargo from Iranian trucks are transported to Armenian vehicles at the border; Iranian trucks are then turned back accompanied by police. Therefore, according to the Minister, officials are exercising extreme caution and taking special precautions to ensure that the transport of cargo does not give anyone cause for concern.
As for stopping flights from Italy, Torosyan said that they are in contact with Armenia’s diplomatic mission in Italy and since cases in Italy are very localized and contained to certain areas, there is no need to cancel flights. The minister said that they will make decisions based on evidence and not demand and that any decision taken today, might, however, be changed the following day depending on the situation. He said that public health is a priority for the country and will be the driving force behind any decisions being made.
The Minister also said that the spread of the virus will slow down with warmer weather, but cautioned people to avoid being around anyone who presents with flu-like symptoms and to wear masks if you are, wash hands often, if you don’t have access to soap or sanitizer, then use any alcohol-based products to wash hands, avoid kissing or shaking hands.
Armenia’s Health Minister Arayik Harutyunyan announces that the ministry has decided to move Spring Break up as a precautionary measure, therefore all educational institutions will be shut down for one week.
Armenia closes its border with neighboring Iran. In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that they will be shutting down the Armenian-Iranian border for two weeks and partially restricting air communication. He went on to say that they will allow flights to bring back any citizen of Armenia. He urged citizens not to travel to Iran and also suspended consular services.
Armenia suspends its visa-free regime with China amid concerns about the rising number of people infected with the coronavirus in that country. This comes just two weeks after a bilateral agreement between Armenia and China removing visa restrictions came into force.