COVID-19 Daily Briefing (May 24)

may 24

Cumulative Cases: 6521

Active Cases: 3483

Recovered: 3000

Deaths: 80

Number of ICU Beds

9 p.m.

In a Facebook status, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan wrote that, of the 186 ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients, 154 are currently in use, leaving only 32 available beds. There are 230 patients who are in serious condition and 52 in extremely critical condition.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Stricter Control

6:30 p.m.

During a Facebook live, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke about the recent spike in cases of COVID-19. He said that many people in the country are asking why there are higher numbers of new daily cases. The Special Commission on the State of Emergency has been holding daily meetings, including one earlier today. According to their data, the main reason for the spike is the manufacturing sector. He said that approximately 80% of COVID-19 cases can be traced back to factories and the service sector.

Starting on May 4, authorities allowed certain sectors of the economy to slowly reopen. Pashinyan said that they decided it was necessary to ease the restrictions that had been put into place. “Did we know at the time that this might lead to a spike in numbers? Of course, we did. Did we not know that we had to take the necessary steps to try to mitigate an increase in transmission? Of course we knew,” Pashinyan said. The Special Commission had outlined very strict regulations, including for factories, and if those security measures are abided by, then we can stop the increase in numbers, he noted.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that they decided to ease restrictions because they understood that Armenia’s economy would not survive a continued lockdown. He said that there were two choices - one solely economic, the other solely about healthcare. “We tried and are trying to keep a balanced approach, not to choose one at the expense of the other,” he said adding that while the spike in numbers is very dangerous, Armenia was one of the few countries in the world that did not experience inflation or fluctuations of the national currency.

Pashinyan said that another reason for the spike was the large gatherings of people at banks because of the ninth social assistance package offered by the state. It was for those families who had children under the age of 18 and, according to Pashinyan, the only way they could collect their benefit was to physically go to a bank because authorities had no other means to deliver those funds. Pashinyan explained that beneficiaries would receive an SMS to inform them that they qualify for the assistance program. He said that they tried to spread out those SMSs to ensure that there wouldn’t be large numbers of people going to banks at the same time. With regard to the manufacturing sector, the Prime Minister said that they gave people the opportunity to return back to work to ensure they could earn a wage.

As a result, the situation has become more complicated. Thereby, stricter measures and control will be implemented to ensure people are adhering to safety measures in the manufacturing and service sectors. “Our policy will be to implement punitive measures,” Pashinyan said, because many have been indifferent to the appeals of the authorities. He said that change must start with the individual. Change in the situation is dependent upon changes in individual behavior. “Our number one method is changing behavior and that is why I am appealing to the people,” he said. “We will use a number of administrative resources, something that the Special Commission was implementing but, moving forward, all those businesses, restaurants, companies, banks and beauty parlors that do not follow safety measures will be immediately shut down without consideration. I have given orders that, if and when business entities are shut down, if they continue to violate safety measures, that shut down will not be for merely 24 hours, but for two weeks or a month if necessary and the names of those businesses who were in violation will be publicized so that people know not to go to their establishments.”

Pashinyan, who was wearing a mask for the duration of his live, said that, if a culture of wearing masks is adopted, the transmission of COVID-19 can be eliminated.

Based on these figures, the following measures will be implemented:

-Everyone in retail outlets, both the seller and buyer, must wear a mask. Otherwise, they will be strictly fined.

-If there is more than one person in a taxi or a car, i.e. the driver, then everyone must wear masks. Otherwise, they will be fined. And this also applies to family members who live together.

Calculations have shown, Pashinyan said, that if people wear masks and frequently wash their hands, then the transmission of COVID-19 will be eliminated.

The Prime Minister noted that many people have complained that masks are too expensive. He said that the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition has started proceedings to see if there have been any potential abuses in the market for masks. In consultation with epidemiologists, they have been advised that homemade masks can also work. Those citizens who don’t want to or cannot buy masks, can make their own.

Another important behavioral change that needs to take place, according to Pashinyan, is social distancing. “If you see a friend on the street, you must maintain a distance of 1.5 meters. Otherwise, you must wear masks,” he said. While he tried to ease concerns by saying not to panic, in the same breath, Pashinyan said that we must all individually have a sense of urgency and social responsibility. He said those who do not practice social responsibility will be held accountable.

Concluding, Pashinyan urged people to continually wash their hands, to wear masks in cars and in all enclosed spaces, especially when communicating with others, and always maintain physical distancing.

Update on the Number of Cases

11 a.m.
The Ministry of Health reported 359 new cases of COVID-19 and 128 recoveries in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 6,661, of which 3,483 are active cases and 3,064 have recovered. Four patients, ages 82, 73, 77 and 71, who all had pre-existing health conditions, died, bringing the total number of deaths to 81. To date, 50,397 tests have been conducted. One COVID-19 patient has also died but the virus was not the cause of death, bringing the number of similar deaths to 33.

May 23 

Update on the Number of Cases

11 a.m.

The Ministry of Health reported 374 new cases of COVID-19 and 62 recoveries in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 6,302, of which 3,257 are active cases and 2,936 have recovered. Three patients, ages 74, 86, and 54, who all had pre-existing health conditions died, bringing the total number of deaths to 77. To date, 49,080 tests have been conducted. Four COVID-19 patients have also died but the virus was not the cause of death, bringing the number of similar deaths to 32.

May 22

Armenians Return From Turkey

1:30 p.m.
168 Armenian citizens returned to Armenia from Turkey. The Embassy of Armenia in Georgia issued a statement saying that they returned through Georgia and that the embassy coordinated their transfer, provided them with basic necessities and disinfected the buses.

Update on the Number of Cases

11 a.m.

The Ministry of Health reported that 322 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed and 293 patients have recovered, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 5,928, of which 2,952 are active cases and 2,874 have recovered. Four patients, ages 52, 81, 61, and 82, who all had pre-existing health conditions, have died bringing the total number of deaths to 74. To date, 47,654 tests have been conducted.

Update on the Situation in Artsakh

10 a.m.
According to the Ministry of Health of Artsakh, four more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 33. Eight of the infected patients have already recovered and 69 people are in quarantine. To date, 669 tests have been conducted.

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