Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan gets the COVID vaccine in Armenia (Eurasianet.org photo)

Armenia Reports Record COVID-19 Deaths

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s health authorities reported a record 57 deaths from COVID-19 on October 26 after months of steady increases in coronavirus infections in the country of about 3 million.

It is the highest number of single-day fatalities recorded by them since the start of the pandemic. The official death toll from the disease thus rose to 6,112.

The figure does not include 1,263 other infected people who the Armenian Ministry of Health says have died as a result of other, chronic conditions. The ministry reported two such deaths on Tuesday morning.

The coronavirus has killed at least 334 Armenians in the past week alone. The daily number of new coronavirus cases also reached new highs during that period.

Medical centers across the country carried out almost 12,000 coronavirus tests on Monday and about 13 percent of them came back positive. Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan warned on October 24 that Armenian hospitals are “on the verge” of running out of vacant beds for COVID-19 patients.

Her ministry has already reported a shortage of beds more than a week ago. It said hundreds of infected people in need of urgent care are awaiting hospitalization because of that.

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The daily number of infections has grown steadily despite the Armenian repeated pledges to step up the enforcement of its sanitary rules, notably mask wearing, which essentially stopped a year ago.

Most Armenians still do not wear mandatory masks indoors, including in overcrowded public buses. In a weekend Facebook post, Avanesyan urged them to “put on masks everywhere” and get vaccinated.

The minister came under fire on Monday after a photograph emerged of her and other senior government officials not wearing masks during an indoor reception hosted by President Armen Sarkissian for more than 100 people.

Her spokeswoman, Hripsime Khachatryan, dismissed the criticism, saying that Avanesyan took off her mask to help herself to refreshments offered to the guests in the presidential palace.

“Nobody can eat or drink while wearing a mask,” Khachatryan told RFE / RL’s Armenian Service. “You can see in the photograph that the minister held a glass in her hand.”

The slow pace of the possible vaccination campaign has also contributed to the resurgence of COVID-19. Less than 10 percent of Armenia’s population has been fully vaccinated so far.

Topics: COVID

On Monday, the government ordered universities to revert to online classes and extended school holidays in a bid to contain the latest wave of infections. It is very unlikely to shut down bars, restaurants or other leisure and cultural facilities that have operated with few sanitary restrictions since the summer of 2020.

 

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