Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Wednesday that the novel coronavirus is continuing to spread in Armenia despite his government’s efforts to get people to follow its anti-epidemic rules.
Pashinian reported a nearly 30 percent year-on-year surge in the total number of deaths registered in the country in June.
“Of course changes in these mortality statistics are not fully connected with the coronavirus, but the coronavirus situation definitely has a significant impact on them,” he told a daily news briefing in Yerevan.
The Armenian Ministry of Health reported earlier in the day that 10 more people died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 453.
The figure does not include the deaths of 149 other people who were also infected with the virus. The ministry says that these deaths were primarily caused by other, pre-existing diseases.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country of about 3 million rose by 523 to 26,065. Ministry data shows that almost 29 percent of coronavirus tests carried out on Tuesday came back positive.
“Unfortunately, we are still not succeeding in achieving our main strategic goal in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic,” said Pashinian. “Our main strategic goal is to learn to live with the coronavirus.”
The prime minister again complained that many Armenians still do not practice social distancing or wear face masks in public areas despite his and other officials’ persistent appeals. He said that on Tuesday alone police fined almost 2,700 citizens for not complying with these requirements.
Opposition politicians and other critics of Pashinian blame his government for the continuing coronavirus crisis. Some of them say that the government never properly enforced a nationwide lockdown imposed in late March and lifted it too soon.
Pashinian indicated his continuing opposition to renewed lockdown restrictions in the country. “We are continuing to put the emphasis on changing the personal behavior of each of us because this is how we are going to overcome the coronavirus epidemic with minimum economic losses,” he said.
Meanwhile, the European Union and the World Health Organization (WHO) donated 10,000 test kits to Armenia on Wednesday. In a joint statement, they said that the donation “will allow wider testing for COVID-19 across the country free of charge.”
The Armenian health authorities carry out an average of over 2,000 coronavirus tests on a daily basis. They are expected to start using soon coronavirus tests manufactured by the Yerevan-based Institute of Molecular Biology.
The director of the state-run institute, Arsen Arakelian, announced that it will produce at least 2,000 tests a day. Armenia will not have to import them anymore, he said.