Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan

Armenia’s Ministry of Health Reports Increased COVID Rates, Bans Travelers from African Countries

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YEREVAN — The Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia held a press conference on November 29 to raise awareness concerning COVID and other respiratory viruses. 

At the conference, the officials warned that a high rate of acute respiratory infections continues to be reported in Armenia, based on the records of outpatient polyclinics and hospitals. Epidemiological analysis indicates that 50 percent of patients at the outpatient polyclinics and 81.3 percent of those at hospitals and in-patient clinics are children up to 18 years old, especially of younger ages. Ongoing spot testing revealed that Type A (H3N2) influenza is spreading. 

Minister of Health Anahit Avanesyan responded to a question from the Mirror-Spectator that at present, 1,217,391 vaccine shots have been delivered in Armenia. Though seemingly a large figure, it is far from what is necessary. “The first dose of the vaccine was given to 781,011 citizens, which is 39 percent of the adult population and the second dose to 436,380 citizens, which is 21 percent of the adult population,” she said, adding that at present, only 1,092 have been vaccinated among those infected with Covid.

Furthermore, she said, “Out of 2,900 hospitalized citizens, only 102 were fully vaccinated, and only 9 among the critically ill citizens. Of those vaccinated and then infected with coronavirus, 23 people have died. At present, 8.1 percent of patients with coronavirus have been vaccinated [previously].”

Avanesyan spoke about booster shots, declaring: “The booster is the third dose, which fully vaccinated citizens receive. Those citizens who have received non-RNA-based vaccines (Moderna or Pfizer) are advised to get vaccinated with the latter type of vaccine, which, according to recent studies, have a high rate of effectiveness. It is important that priority for receiving the third booster shot be given to those in high-risk groups.”

Avanesyan declared at the press conference that a plan has been prepared according to which restaurants and entertainment venues can only be entered with proof of either vaccination or negative Covid test results starting on January 1, 2022. This decision has caused dissatisfaction among some businessmen and citizens.

Ashot Barseghyan

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For example, Ashot Barseghyan, head of the Association of Restaurants NGO, thought that such a decision could have serious consequences for business, which in addition could reduce tax revenues. He noted that any economic restrictions, if not accompanied by economic assistance, inflict economic and social harm. “If suddenly protests emerge, how will we deal with it? Will they seize people on the streets and forcibly vaccinate them? The state debt has reached 10 billion dollars, and now it is dangerous to do such a thing,” said Barseghyan to the Mirror-Spectator.

The Health Ministry’s summary of the covid situation in Armenia, as of November 29, is that 338,120 cases of coronavirus infection have been registered in Armenia and 316,198 people have recovered. At the moment, 12,947 people are receiving treatment, while 7,535 people have died, along with 1,440 from related diseases.

Avanesyan added that due to the danger of new COVID mutations, entry to Armenia from a number of countries will be banned. Armenia will temporarily bar entry of residents of South Africa and seven other regional states in a bid to protect its population against the new coronavirus variant Omicron, Avanesian said, including Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

(RFE/RL contributed to this report.)

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