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Armenian Official Fears Coronavirus Resurgence


Armenia -- A healthcare worker wearing protective gear takes notes at the Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, Yerevan, June 5, 2020.

Armenia’s COVID-19 infection rate may be increasing again after two months of steady decline, Deputy Health Minister Lena Nanushian warned on Friday.

She said that the reopening on Tuesday of all Armenian schools and universities could contribute to a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

The Ministry of Health registered between 239 and 295 new daily cases for the last three days, up from an average of roughly 150 cases reported last week. A near doubling of coronavirus tests carried out across the country on a daily basis seems to be the main reason for the increase.

Nevertheless, health officials are concerned about the latest COVID-19 statistics. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian echoed their concerns during a cabinet meeting on Thursday. He said the Armenian police must not be lenient towards people refusing to wear mandatory face masks in public spaces.

Pointing to data from her ministry, Nanushian said more people contracted the disease than recovered from it in recent days. This will likely translate into a further rise in coronavirus cases in the coming weeks, she said.

“True, we are now carrying out a larger number of tests,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “But we should take into account factors affecting those indicators. Namely, the population’s increased mobility and the reopening of schools and other educational establishments, which will also contribute to [COVID-19] outbreaks.”

Nanushian said that compliance with the government’s strict safety protocols for schools and universities will therefore be critical. She insisted that the government is right to require all school students to wear masks during classes.

“All we have to do is to follow the rules and ensure mask-wearing by children, rather than look for dubious sources of information to claim that masks are harmful [for their health.] That’s not true,” added the official.

The Ministry of Health has recorded a total of 46,910 coronavirus cases and 926 deaths caused by them since the start of the pandemic. According to it, the number of active cases in the country of about 3 million stood at 3,330 as of Friday morning.

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