Armenia still has enough hospital beds to treat increased numbers of coronavirus patients, the Ministry of Health insisted on Wednesday.
“We have no problems with regard to hospitalization at the moment,” the ministry spokeswoman, Alina Nikoghosian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “The available hospital beds are still sufficient.”
Nikoghosian said at the same time that 176 infected people in need of urgent treatment waited to be hospitalized as of Wednesday morning. But she stressed that 140 of them were in kept in medical “triage centers” in preparation for their hospitalization.
“So the [hospitalization] process is going on and perhaps most of them have already been hospitalized,” added the official.
The coronavirus crisis is putting a growing strain on Armenia’s underfunded healthcare system, forcing the health authorities to ramp up capacity. The authorities pledged last week to make 350 new hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients. Armenian hospitals fighting the epidemic had a total of over 2,000 beds at that point.
Just over 18,000 coronavirus cases and at least 302 deaths have been recorded in the country of about 3 million to date. According to the Ministry of Health, 544 people tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.
Nikoghosian put the current number of active cases at 10,818. The vast majority of these infected people are confined at home and monitored by primary healthcare workers.
Health Minister Arsen Torosian said, meanwhile, that despite the increased daily numbers of new infections the disease has spread in the last 10 days more slowly than was expected by the health authorities. In a Facebook post, he said this is the result of more Armenians practicing social distancing, wearing face masks and taking other precautions recommended by the authorities.
Torosian also cautioned: “The situation remains very tense and we all need to make additional and prolonged efforts to improve it.”