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Armenians Evacuated From Coronavirus-Hit Italy


Emergency services at standby at Zvartnots Airport in Yerevan ready to receive Armenian citizens arriving on a charter flight from Rome, Italy, March 16, 2020

Armenia has evacuated dozens of its citizens from coronavirus-hit Italy on board a plane operating a charter flight that arrived in Yerevan from Rome early on March 16.

The Armenian government published a video on Monday showing passengers, all of them wearing protective masks, getting off the plain in Yerevan’s Zvartnots Airport.

Medics in protective gear and other emergency services met the 67 passengers, of all whom are said to have been placed under 14-day quarantine.

Another video published by Armenian Health Minister Arsen Torosian late on Sunday showed that all passengers had been given protective masks before boarding the plane in Rome.

In announcing the arrangement of the charter flight last week, the Armenian government said all of its passengers would be immediately isolated and quarantined to prevent the possible penetration of more of the potentially deadly virus into Armenia from Italy.

“The plane arrived at Zvartnots several hours late, but all was good. There had been no emergencies during the flight. No one had fever upon arrival. The rest will be according to the initially announced plan,” Minister Torosian said.

According to the Armenian government’s decision, from now on all passengers arriving in Armenia from European countries, including Italy, where the coronavirus risks are assessed as high will also have to be placed under quarantine or quarantine themselves at their homes.

Last month the Armenian government also evacuated dozens of citizens from Iran, which has also been hit hard by the new coronavirus declared by the World Health Organization a global pandemic last week.

So far Armenia has confirmed 30 cases of the new coronavirus also known as COVID-19, with one patient declared cured.

Most of the cases transmitted locally are linked to a woman who had come from Italy earlier this month and presumably spread the virus at a family occasion in Echmiadzin, a town of 45,000 residents situated some 20 kilometers to the west of capital Yerevan.

The Armenian government blocked most of the exits from Echmiadzin late on Sunday, saying that medical screening will be conducted at the remaining three exit points and those having fever will be asked to return home and temporarily isolate themselves from the public.

In a live broadcast on Facebook early on Monday Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said his government will hold consultations later today on the possibility of introducing a state of emergency in Armenia or in parts of the country most affected by the novel coronavirus.

“If as a result of these consultations we decide that it is necessary to declare a statement of emergency in the republic or in parts of it, this decision will be made,” the prime minister said.

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