Five Armenian hospitals have stopped treating people infected with the coronavirus because of a significant decrease in new cases in the country, the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.
The ministry reported in the morning that 288 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past day, down from an average of 550-600 cases a day registered in the first half of July.
It also reported only two more deaths caused by COVID-19. They raised the official death toll to 770. The figure does not include the deaths of 228 other Armenians infected with the virus. The health authorities say that they were primarily caused by other, pre-existing diseases.
The daily number of officially registered fatalities averaged approximately 15 from July 6 through July 24.
The latest government data also shows that the daily number of people recovering from COVID-19 continued to surpass that of new infections on Tuesday, cutting the number of active coronavirus cases to 7,738. The vast majority of the infected citizens remain self-isolated at home.
According to a Ministry of Health spokeswoman, Lilit Babakhanian, the nationwide number of hospitalized patients in a critical or serious condition fell from around 650 in mid-July to 368 on Wednesday morning.
“There are already five hospitals that no longer treat COVID-19 patients,” Babakhanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. Two of them are located in Yerevan while the three others in the towns of Vanadzor, Dilijan and Vedi, she said.
Health Minister Arsen Torosian announced later on Wednesday two more hospitals will discharge their last COVID-19 patients in the coming days. Thirteen other medical centers will continue to deal with the coronavirus, Torosian told a news briefing.
Like Torosian, Nune Bakunts, the deputy director of the ministry’s National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, insisted that the coronavirus crisis in Armenia has been on a downward trend in recent weeks.
Bakunts attributed that to people’s and businesses’ increased compliance with anti-epidemic rules set by the government. “We can say that measures taken by us are bearing fruit,” she said.
Wearing a mask or a cloth covering mouth and nose not only in enclosed spaces but also in the streets and all other public areas has been mandatory in Armenia since the beginning of June. Thousands of people have been fined for defying this requirement.
The government also claims to have stepped up since then the enforcement of its social distancing and hygiene rules set for various businesses. It reopened virtually all sectors of the Armenian economy in early May.
Echoing statements by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Bakunts stressed that continued compliance with the government rules will be essential for further reducing the country’s coronavirus infection rates, which have been one of the highest in the world.
Pashinian expressed hope last week that Armenia will largely overcome its coronavirus crisis already in September. Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinian announced, for his part, that the government is now considering reopening soon schools, universities, libraries, museums and theaters shut down in March.
Bakunts was confident that their possible reopening would be regulated by strict safety protocols. She said this should “neutralize or minimize” the risk of a virus resurgence.