By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Government officials and meteorologists downplayed on Tuesday health risks posed by a blistering heatwave that descended on Armenia at the weekend following two unusually cool and rainy summer months.
Air temperatures in Yerevan and the nearby Ararat Valley have gone up sharply in recent days, surpassing 40 degrees Celsius on Monday afternoon and making Armenians swelter for the first time this year. The National Meteorological Service expects the weather to cool down by the end of this week, forecasting more rains across the country. “The temperature will continue to vary, it but will not hit 40 degrees anymore,” its director, Gennady Kojoyan, told reporters. “We anticipate more precipitation in the coming days.”
Officials at the Armenian Health Ministry said they therefore have no cause for alarm. According to Deputy Healthy Minister Hayk Darpinian, the heatwave is not dangerous for construction workers and other people spending most of their day in the sun. “He have no reason to panic,” he said.
The deputy head of the ministry’s ambulance service, Nune Zhamkochian, said it has not registered any increase in sunstrokes and other heat-related health problems among the population. “We get the same number of phone calls,” she said.
Nonetheless, ministry doctors are recommending parents to keep their children at home between midday and 5 p.m. and have them eat more fruits, dairy products and other easily digestible foodstuffs. They also say children should be kept from swimming in public fountains at this time of the year to avoid catching infectious diseases.
This summer has otherwise been one of the coolest in Armenia’s recent history due to a large amount of precipitation in June and July, normally a hot and dry period. It has been a different story in Western Europe which is sweltering through its hottest summer in decades, with temperatures reaching levels unheard of in countries like Britain, France and Germany. The continuing heatwave has affected large parts of the continent, bringing about human suffering and huge forest fires.
In landlocked Armenia, by contrast, hot weather is a regular occurrence. It is made more endurable by a very dry continental climate.