The Armenian authorities will double the number of special teams enforcing safety rules meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Tuesday.
Pashinian said police officers will be joined by representatives of other state bodies in ensuring that Armenians wear face masks, practice social distancing and take other precautions against COVID-19.
“This will allow us to double the number of enforcement groups,” he told a daily COVID-19 news briefing.
Early this month Armenian government made it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask not only in all enclosed spaces but also in the streets and all other public areas. Police say that thousands of citizens have since been fined 10,000 drams ($21) for failing to comply with this requirement which the government says is essential for tackling the epidemic.
Pashinian announced that starting from Wednesday Armenians will also have to carry passports or other IDs when leaving their homes. Failure to do so will be punishable by separate 10,000-dram fines, he said, adding that the measure will facilitate the enforcement of the mask requirement.
The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday morning 425 new infections, bringing to 17,489 the total number of coronavirus cases in the country of about 3 million.
The ministry also said that 8 more people died from the disease in the past 24 hours, raising the official death toll to 295. The figure does not include the deaths of 96 other infected people. These fatalities were primarily caused by other, pre-existing diseases, according to the health authorities.
The ministry spokeswoman, Alina Nikoghosian, put the number of active cases at over 10,500. Nikoghosian said only around 2,500 of these patients are now receiving treatment in hospitals. The others remain confined at home and monitored by primary healthcare workers, she said.
Health Minister Arsen Torosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Monday that 231 infected persons in need of urgent treatment are now waiting to be hospitalized.
The government pledged last week to set up 350 new hospital beds to cope with the growing number of patients. Torosian cautioned that increasing hospital capacity alone will not address the problem. He stressed the importance of lowering infection rates.
The minister was also concerned about the fact that 470 patients were in a serious and 116 others in a critical condition as of Monday afternoon.
“The number is quite large,” he said. “Unfortunately the majority of the citizens in a critical condition … are at serious risk of dying. But doctors are doing everything to prevent that happening.”