Teams of Russian and Lithuanian medics have arrived in Armenia to help their Armenian colleagues increasingly struggling to cope with the coronavirus crisis.
The Armenian Ministry of Health released on Monday photographs of the “first group of Russian doctors” who arrived in Yerevan on Sunday.
It said that they are among about 50 healthcare workers in Russia who have expressed readiness to treat COVID-19 patients kept in Armenian hospitals. “The arrival of the next group is expected in early July,” the ministry added in a statement.
About a dozen other medics arrived in Armenia from Lithuania on Friday night. The Lithuanian Embassy in Yerevan said their two-week mission is financed by the European Union and Sweden’s government. The Lithuanian medics were deployed to two Yerevan-based hospitals that were reconfigured in April to treat only people infected with the coronavirus.
The Russian and Lithuanian teams also brought with them medical equipment and supplies donated to the Armenian health authorities.
Seven other, French doctors travelled to Armenia on June 14 on a similar 10-day mission supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development. They are expected to be replaced by another French medical team later this week.
Armenia is one of the worst hit countries in the region, having registered 20,588 coronavirus cases as of Monday morning. The authorities in the country of about 3 million have reported the deaths of 477 people infected with COVID-19. They say that 117 of those deaths were primarily caused by other, pre-existing diseases.
The COVID-19 pandemic is putting a growing strain on Armenia’s underfunded healthcare system. Health Minister Arsen Torosian warned last week that Armenian hospitals are struggling to keep up with the continuing spread of the disease.
Torosian argued that the number of new coronavirus infections is growing faster than that of new hospital beds made available for COVID-19 patients. In particular, he said, although the total number of intensive-care beds has risen by over 30 percent in the last two weeks virtually all of them are occupied now.