COVID-19 Daily Briefing (May 18)

may 18

Cumulative Cases: 4823

Active Cases: 2718

Recovered: 2019

Deaths: 61

Harmful Conspiracy Theories 

4 p.m. 

In a Facebook post, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan said that parallel to the increase in the number of infections, the number of conspiracy theorists is also growing. Torosyan said the situation is concerning as many people are becoming complacent to the risks of the disease.

According to Torosyan comments like “We will be fitted with microchips,” “There is no such disease,” “It will not happen to us,” “It is an international conspiracy,” “It is all a lie,” “It is all so that they can get financing from abroad,” are often made by individuals under some media publications about the pandemic. 

Torosyan wrote that, if this tendency continues, the Ministry will be obliged to pass on the information about people disseminating fake and unfounded information to law enforcement in an attempt to understand who is behind the conspiracy theories and what their motivation is for wanting to harm citizens of Armenia.

In conclusion, the Health Minister called on citizens to follow safety instructions more closely, especially in light of the recent hike in numbers of COVID-19 patients and follow only official sources.

Armenian Citizens in Georgia Can Return

1:30 p.m.

The Embassy of Armenia in Georgia has reported that, starting May 18, the Marneuli region in Georgia (on the Armenia-Georgia border) will come out of the two month-long lockdown. The embassy said that Armenian citizens in Georgia wishing to return to Armenia can now do so through the Sadakhlo-Bagratashen border checkpoint (during the working hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m).

The Embassy also reminded that non-Georgian citizens, including citizens of Armenia, are still forbidden from entering Georgia.

City Officials About the New Regulations

12 p.m.
Hratchya Sargsyan, First Deputy Mayor of Yerevan, and Tigran Virabyan, Deputy Mayor, gave a briefing about public transportation and kindergartens during the State of Emergency (SOE). Speaking about the disposal of face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), Sargsyan said that special trucks have been designated to collect the garbage from hotels where people possibly infected with COVID-19 are being isolated. Also, all the trucks leaving the landfill are washed to avoid the possible transfer of the virus back to the city. He urged citizens to place used face masks and gloves in polyethylene bags before disposing them.

With regard to public transportation, Sargsyan explained that, over the next several days, the Municipality will evaluate passenger flow, which typically drops by 30% in May, mainly because higher education institutions are closed. He also noted that, in case passengers do not comply with the rules set by the Special Commission, drivers are required to stop the bus.

Virabyan provided updates on how the work of kindergartens will be organized, which according to the decision of the Special Commission, will resume their activities on May 20. The Deputy Mayor clarified that priority will be given to those children whose parents are unable to work remotely, whose mother is the only one in the family working, or who live in a low-income family. According to a survey conducted among 31,000 parents in 161 Yerevan kindergartens, 11,000 comply with these conditions and want to take their children to a kindergarten. All those who start taking their children to kindergartens starting from May 20 will need to follow safety rules and regulations. According to those rules, parents cannot enter the premises of a kindergarten. Instead, they should wait in the designated area in front of the kindergarten. While in the kindergarten, children will be in groups of eight to ten and their temperature will be measured several times during the day.

To further ensure the safety of children, employees who are in a high-risk group (20% of the workforce), will be on paid leave. Virabyan said that, starting from today, all kindergartens will be disinfected on a daily basis. Also, all the kindergarten employees will be provided with face masks and hand sanitizer. All those not complying with the set rules will have their employment terminated.

Update on the Number of Cases

11 a.m.
The Ministry of Health reported that 351 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Armenia and 94 patients have recovered, bringing the total number of infections to 4,823, of which 2,718 are active cases and 2,019 have recovered. One patient died over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths to 61. One COVID-19 patient has also died, however, the virus was not the cause of death. There have been 25 similar deaths in Armenia. A total of 41,850 tests have been conducted.

May 17

Fake News About “Inflated” COVID-19 Death Rates

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health Alina Nikoghosyan spoke about the circulation of fake news about families of people who have died of different causes being offered [presumably by the Ministry of Health] 100,000 AMD to register COVID-19 as the cause of death.

Nikoghosyan said the Ministry has not been able to identify the original source(s) of the misinformation but it is evident that it is being disseminated through fake facebook profiles. 

Nikoghosyan said COVID-19 patients who pass away remain under the purview of the Ministry from the moment the death is registered until the body is handed over to relatives. Furthermore, Nikoghosyan pointed out that it is unclear what would be the government’s motivation for artificially “inflating” the COVID-19 death rate.

COVID-19 Tests to be Conducted Only by Officially Certified Laboratories

The Ministry of Health reported that some laboratories in Armenia had started offering paid coronavirus tests. Due to a lack of oversight in the quality of the laboratory work and the quality of the COVID-19 tests acquired, the ministry considers the practice to be unacceptable and even dangerous.

Unreliable results could disrupt the overall national strategy to respond to the pandemic, making it difficult to collect accurate data, organize the treatment of patients, do contact tracing and stop the spread of the virus.

Taking into consideration the importance of having a centralized testing system, Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan has instructed that COVID-19 tests be conducted only by laboratories certified by the ministry, only with a doctor’s prescription and free of charge.

Village Under Lockdown

By the decision of the Special Commission, the village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor Region is in lockdown. In an interview with Azatutyun, Ararat Grigoryan, the Vayots Dzor regional governor, said there are around 10 confirmed cases in the village. All the patients are in relatively good health. Grigoryan also said that there are no other infections in the region.

Update on the Number of Cases

The Ministry of Health reported 189 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 134 recoveries. To date, there are 4,472 cumulative cases in Armenia and 1,925 recoveries. There are 2,463 active cases. The Ministry also reported five COVID-19 related deaths (ages 80, 89, 51, 78, 74) all of whom had pre-existing health conditions, bringing the number of deaths to 60. Two COVID-19 patients have also died, however, the virus was not the cause of death. There have been 24 similar deaths in Armenia. A total of 40,230 tests have been conducted.


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