Major coronavirus outbreaks expected in Armenia. Prime minister calls for an “anti-pandemic movement”
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote a post on his Facebook page on June 4 calling for Armenian citizens to create an “anti-pandemic movement.”
He urged everyone to comply with sanitary standards and to demand the same from others by reporting violations on social media.
This appeal comes in light of the fact that there are more than 500 new coronavirus cases reported daily in the country. Moreover, large outbreaks of infection are already expected at businesses that have already reopened.
However, the government has decided not to return to the strict quarantine regime or shut down businesses again.
On June 4, Armenia reported 697 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the overall total in the country to 11,221. 3,468 people have recovered, and 7,509 are still in treatment. 176 patients have died.
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What the PM said
Pashinyan announced that the coronavirus situation continues to deteriorate:
“We have come a point where our medical facilities are no longer able to accept new patients in need of treatment…We have reached the limit of what our healthcare system can handle…
Absolutely everyone must treat everyone else as a potential carrier of the virus. Because we know for certain that there are at least 20,000 asymptomatic cases in the country, and maybe even more, who may simply not know that they are infected.”
He announced that the only way to fight coronavirus is social responsibility and public control.
Since June 2, the prime minister has been publishing photos of crowds at banks, post offices or shops sent by users on his Facebook page.
Pashinyan urges people to continue sending photos of violations in order to “prosecute those responsible for violations.”
“The incident with the banks which happened yesterday, for example, was addressed immediately, because reputations are at risk, and this is important. Banks do not want to risk ruining their reputation, therefore their response was immediate,” said the prime minister.
New outbreaks are expected
Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan periodically publishes his predictions about the possible development of events. His latest forecast for June 4: Armenia will face new mass outbreaks.
They will be associated with the large companies that have already reopened, where several employees have already been diagnosed.
As for the condition of those infected: 391 are in critical condition, and 59 are in near-critical condition. 15 people have been intubated on ventilators.
The minister emphasized that it is already difficult for the healthcare system to find beds for infected patients in hospitals. At present, around 15-20% of those infected require hospitalization, while the rest stay home under doctor supervision.
“It is very important for us now to see a serious decline in numbers so that we can continue our approach and not leave anyone without medical care…Otherwise, it will be difficult,” warns Torosyan.
Several politicians have started to criticize the healthcare system due to the continuing rise in the number of infections. The minister responded, saying:
“The system, which has been under-funded for decades, to which a mere 1.4% of the GDP has been allocated for decades, which is underdeveloped in terms of technology and equipment, has to this day performed on par with those that have received ten times more funding, thanks to the devoted work of our medical workers. For which I personally am deeply grateful to them.”
Opinions on the situation
Political commentator Akop Badalyan commented on the way the coronavirus situation has played out in the country:
“During the quarantine, the trend was towards an increase in the number of cases. And then the Minister of Health reported that the situation had spiraled out of control.
Did anyone really think that we would see a decrease in the number of infections after almost completely reopening the economy and society? Deaths are always painful, even if only one person dies. But can we really say that, from a statistical point of view, what we are observing is unexpected?
We need to stop catastrophizing and simply follow the safety rules. And the government simply needs to be prepared for a rise in the number of cases.”
Journalist Nune Hakhverdyan believes that the commandant’s office lost a lot of time by not allowing people to understand the danger of the situation from the very beginning. The government believed that in order to prevent panic among the population, the media of should report only official figures and not publish their own materials. Many in Armenia have stopped being vigilant, and some believe that there is no virus:
“The lack of staff in hospitals from March-April and the attempt to embellish the real situation in the healthcare sector did not lead to anything good. If we saw the lines and crowds of people near the infectious diseases hospitals, heard the voices of the exhausted and infected nurses and doctors in the polyclinics, who can no longer do anything except give psychological advice…people would take this more seriously. ”
Commentary on social media
People on social media are actively discussing the current situation. Here are some of the comments:
“Your social media activism will no longer help. The effect of these movements will only be effective after 2 weeks, but it will be so small as to be practically insignificant. 80% of infections occur within the family. And these 20,000 people are now infecting their family members and relatives.”
“We need to instate a strict quarantine right now. Give people money for groceries and quarantine them immediately. Laying asphalt on roads is not more important than human lives, and you need to redirect funds from the budget to the right channels. You are doing cosmetic repairs when you have problems with the foundation.”
“People in the country were careless about the situation from day one. What language does it have to be written in to make it clear? People here are not accustomed to and do not want to obey the law. They’re used to turning a blind eye.”
“What a pity that people are unable to give up petty desires for the sake of their own health. I just graduated high school. I, like all graduates, wanted to have a real graduation ceremony. But we, as well as our parents and teachers, have come to terms with the circumstances, given the situation. We received our diplomas one by one, in masks and gloves in an empty school. But because of those who do not follow the rules, we cannot return to our normal lives.”
“The people aren’t the only ones to blame. Make it so that all institutions have to create social distancing zones! And for whoever does not comply, let him pay heavy fines!”