The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths registered in Armenia has reached another record high, health authorities said on Tuesday.
The Armenian Ministry of Health said that 19 more people died from coronavirus in the past day, up from the previous daily high of 15 deaths reported last Thursday. The official death toll from the epidemic thus rose to 158.
The figure does not include the deaths of 56 other people who were also infected with the virus. The ministry says that they were primarily caused by other, pre-existing diseases. One of these fatalities was registered on Monday.
The ministry also reported that the total number of coronavirus cases in the country of about 3 million rose by 517 to just over 10,000. It said that a total of about 1,250 COVID-19 tests were carried out on Monday.
The number of COVID-19 infections and resulting deaths in Armenia has grown steadily since the government began easing in mid-April a nationwide lockdown imposed by it in late March. All sectors of the Armenian economy were allowed to resume their work by May 10.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian, who coordinates government measures taken against the epidemic, indicated on Monday that the authorities still do not intend to again issue stay-at-home orders, ban public transport and shut down most businesses. He said that a renewed lockdown would be an “extreme method” of dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
The spread of the virus in the country is still “controllable,” Avinian claimed at a joint news briefing with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. It was held just hours after Pashinian announced that he and all members of his family have tested positive for COVID-19.
Commenting on the growing number of new cases and fatalities, Pashinian complained that many Armenians continue to ignore safety rules set by the health authorities. He again urged them to wear face masks, frequently wash hands and observe social distancing.
Pashinian ordered law-enforcement and sanitary authorities to toughen the enforcement of those rules when during a video conference with senior government officials held on Tuesday.
The crisis is putting a growing strain on Armenia’s underfunded healthcare system and, in particular, intensive care units of hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. As of last week, hose units had only about 200 hospital beds and the vast majority of them were occupied.
Health Minister Arsen Torosian, who also spoke at Monday’s news briefing, reiterated that the authorities will set up dozens of more such beds in various hospitals in the coming days and weeks. He said about 500 of the infected persons are currently in a serious or critical condition.