Armenia: 1st coronavirus death. Cases among health workers, soldiers, children. Media restrictions eased
One person in Armenia has died from the coronavirus: a 72-year-old man who suffered from several chronic diseases.
As of March 26, there are 290 reported coronavirus cases in Armenia. One patient remains in critical condition. 18 have already recovered.
The virus reaches the army
On March 25, press secretary of the Ministry of Defense Shushan Stepanyan reported that three contract soldiers tested positive for coronavirus.
“A family member of one of the servicemen had previously been diagnosed with the virus. All three confirmed cases are connected to one of the primary cases reported in Armenia…These soldiers had been in isolation, which significantly reduced the risk of further spreading the virus,” said Defense Minister David Tonoyan.
The men all serve in the same military unit, which is far away from combat bases. They are hospitalized and are in good condition. One of them has a low-grade fever, and the others show no symptoms.
“I assure you that the soldiers are being provided with high-quality and effective medical care, and that their lives are not in danger. We have already determined who they came in contact with. Those who may be infected are being quarantined in separate, predetermined areas,” reports the Minister of Defense.
From their unit, 32 other soldiers were tested for coronavirus.
Children among the infected
During a press conference on March 26, the Minister of Health announced that there are school children among those infected with coronavirus:
“They feel fine and have practically no symptoms. The manifestation of the disease is mild for them and not life-threatening.”
The minister was unable to give a concrete number of how many children are affected by the virus. But again, he urged people to comply with safety rules, regardless of their age, in order to avoid getting sick or infecting loved ones:
“This should become the dominant behavior pattern for at least the near future, until we find a remedy that completely cures the infection.”
Easing restrictions on the media
Since March 16, when the state of emergency was declared in Armenia, restrictions have been imposed on media publications, which are only allowed to publish only official information about the coronavirus epidemic. The government explained that this was necessary in order to avoid any aggression towards patients, as well as panic among the population.
The decision was harshly criticized by journalists and editors, as a precise definition of which messages may induce panic was not given.
The backlash from journalistic organizations has yielded results. Since March 25, the restrictions on the media have been eased, they have been allowed to operate freely throughout the state of emergency.
Media agencies must still comply with the following requirements:
- In publications on coronavirus reprinted from foreign sources, it is necessary to indicate the country of origin in the title.
- If the material refers to those in quarantine or self-isolation, virus carriers or anti-epidemiological measures, information from the commandant’s office must be used, and must be presented in its entirety and without editing.
- If the commandant’s office wishes to refute any information published by a media agency, it must do so no later than two hours after its publication.
- Violators will be subject to a fine of 100-300 thousand drams (approximately 200-600 dollars).
- Refusal to delete prohibited information will result in a fine of 500 to 1000 times the minimum wage (approximately 1000-2000 dollars).