Numbers of COVID-19 in Armenia Seem to Stay Stable


YEREVAN (RFE/RL and Armenpress) — Armenia has banned virtually all foreign nationals from entering the country due to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, it was announced on April 7.

The Armenian government imposed last month such a ban only on the citizens of a few dozen states, notably China, Iran, Italy and Spain, that were hit hardest by coronavirus.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, April 7, that the government decided to extend the travel ban to the entire world because virtually all countries have recorded coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

In a statement, the ministry said that the ban will not cover those foreigners who are married to Armenians or have Armenian residency permits as well as foreign diplomats and representatives of international organizations. But it cautioned that they all will have to self-isolate or be put in quarantine immediately after entering the country.

Armenia’s land borders with neighboring Georgia and Iran were closed for travel in March, and virtually all airlines stopped flying to Yerevan and Gyumri by the beginning of this month. The latest government measure may therefore change little in practice.

According to the Foreign Ministry statement, the government expanded the travel ban on April 3 just before the spread of coronavirus in Armenia began slowing down.

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The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday that 20 people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases to 853. Twenty-five other Armenians recovered from the virus in the same period, according to the ministry.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan seized upon these figures to express “cautious optimism” about the government’s efforts to contain the epidemic. He again said that the government will consider easing a nationwide lockdown if the downward trend continues in the coming days.

Armenia has reported eight coronavirus-related deaths so far.

Pashinyan on Monday reported a significant drop in new cases of coronavirus in Armenia and said his government will consider easing a nationwide lockdown if a downward trend continues in the coming days.

“And if our theory materializes, it will mean that starting from next Monday we will be able to think about easing the [quarantine] regime,” added the premier.

Armenia had only 249 confirmed coronavirus cases when its government issued stay-at-home orders and forced the closure of nonessential businesses on March 24. The number of infections continued to rise by over 10 percent per day in the following days, leading the authorities to impose more transport restrictions.

In particular, they suspended public transport in Yerevan and restricted travel between the Armenian capital and the rest of the country. Official statistics show that the daily infection rate began falling on April 3.

Health authorities are setting up hundreds of additional hospital beds to cope with a continuing rise in coronavirus cases in Armenia.

The Armenian Ministry of Health added the country’s largest hospital, the Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, to the list of hospitals that are currently treating only people infected with coronavirus.

Dozens of ambulances began transporting its patients suffering from other diseases to three other hospitals also located in Yerevan.

“We will finish [the evacuation] today and be ready to admit [coronavirus] patients starting from tomorrow,” Grigorich Lusavorich’s deputy director, Petros Manukyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Manukyan said that around 400 hospital beds, including those of an intensive care unit, will be made available for that purpose.

Eight other hospitals located in Yerevan and four other cities were turned into COVID-19 clinics last month. According Health Minister Arsen Torosyan, a total of 16 medical centers across the country are currently treating coronavirus patients.

Torosyan said on Thursday that the authorities are also making contingency plans to convert indoor sports arenas into makeshift hospitals that would accommodate hundreds and possibly thousands of more patients. “We must be prepared for any scenario,” he told a news conference.

More than a hundred beds have already been placed at Yerevan’s Karen Demirchyan Sports and Concert Complex, Armenia’s largest concert hall.

Torosyan also informed Pashinyan and fellow cabinet members that the health authorities will sharply increase the number of coronavirus tests which have reportedly averaged over 200 a day in the past week.

“Very soon 400-500 tests will be conducted on a daily basis,” he said. “This number will reach 1,500 after we acquire new equipment.”

Argentine-Armenian businessman, Eduardo Eurnekian on Monday pledged that he will provide $250,000 in aid to the government of Armenia for fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), PR manager at the Zvartnots international airport Satenik Hovhannisyan reported.

The Armenian Parliament will re-direct 500,000,000 drams from its annual budget to the government budget for the coronavirus response, Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan said on social media.

The funds were meant for the annual bonuses of 700 administrative employees and lawmakers, representative spending and other various budgetary expenditures.

In addition, the European Union will provide Armenia with 51 million euro in assistance to fight against coronavirus.

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