By Ruzanna Stepanian
Medical authorities urged the population on Thursday to stay indoors in the afternoon and take other precautions against a blistering heatwave that has gripped Yerevan and other parts of Armenia this week.
According to meteorologists, air temperature hit almost 42 degrees Celsius on Wednesday and was just as high the next day, making August the hottest month registered in the country in a century.
“This is the highest temperature registered in Yerevan in the last 100 years,” said Albert Torosian, deputy director of the national meteorological service. Torosian blamed the weather on air currents flowing into Armenia from the south and said it will remain extremely hot for at least two more days.
The Armenian Ministry of Health, meanwhile, advised citizens -- pregnant women, elderly people and children in particular -- to avoid walking in the streets from noon until 5 p.m. local time and to drink at least three liters of water a day. Armenians were also urged to cover their heads and wear cotton clothes when going out.
The summer heatwave is not confined to Armenia and the region. Many parts of Europe and the United States have also been suffering from an extremely hot weather and have reported scored of casualties. In France alone, the heat has already claimed more than 100 lives.
The Armenian authorities have not reported any fatalities yet. Still, health officials said the number of ambulance calls has soared in recent years. Elmira Gevorgian, a senior doctor at the Health Ministry’s ambulance service, told RFE/RL that her medics received some 50 heat-related calls and treated at least five people who fainted on the streets of Yerevan on Wednesday. She said exposure to heat is particularly dangerous for people suffering from cardiac diseases.