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No New Coronavirus Cases Reported In Armenia Yet


Armenia -- Newly arrived pasengers from Italy at Zvartnots airport, Yerevan, March 3, 2020.

An Armenian man who returned from Iran late last week remains the sole person diagnosed with coronavirus in Armenia so far, Health Minister Arsen Torosian said on Tuesday.

Torosian also said that the 29-year-old man hospitalized at the weekend does not have a fever and is not displaying other disease symptoms.

The 31 other individuals, who are kept in quarantine at a disused luxury hotel in the resort town of Tsaghkadzor, are also “feeling well,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

“They will stay in Tsaghkadzor for 12 more days,” he said. “They will undergo two coronavirus tests. If they test negative we will send them home.”

The quarantined individuals were in physical contact with the infected man, according to health authorities. They include an ambulance crew that transported him to a Yerevan hospital and some passengers of a plane that evacuated Armenian nationals from Iran last Friday.

In Torosian’s words, a total of 134 people in Armenia have tested negative for the virus in recent days.

The minister reported later in the day that he telephoned his Iranian counterpart Saeed Namaki to discuss the continuing spread of the virus in Iran, which infected 1,500 people and killed at least 66 of them as of Monday. He said Namaki assured him that Iranian authorities have “sufficient medical capacities” to cope with the grave outbreak.

Iran -- A woman has her temperature checked and her hands disinfected as she enters the Palladium Shopping Center in Tehran, March 3, 2020
Iran -- A woman has her temperature checked and her hands disinfected as she enters the Palladium Shopping Center in Tehran, March 3, 2020

The two ministers spoke as the Armenian government began enforcing its ban on virtually all types of cargo traffic through the Armenian-Iranian border. The government closed the border for individual travellers and suspended Yerevan-Tehran flights last week.

On Monday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian urged Armenians to avoid nonessential travel to another coronavirus-hit country, Italy. But he made clear that the government has no plans yet to halt flights from Yerevan to Milan and Rome.

The Irish budget airline Ryanair carried out the latest Milan-Yerevan flight on Tuesday, bringing 69 people to Armenia. All of them were briefly inspected at Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport by medics deployed by the Armenian Ministry of Health.

One of those passengers was taken to hospital after complaining of respiratory problems experienced by him on Monday. A sanitary inspector at Zvartnots, Hayk Kirakosian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the passenger will be examined “in laboratory conditions.”

Most of the other passengers of the Milan-Yerevan flight wore medical masks as they walked out of the airport. “There are more masked people here than there [in Italy,]” said one of them. “We just put them on to make sure we don’t bring the virus here. But we have fully been checked.”

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