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Armenian Schools To Stay Open Despite COVID-19 Resurgence


Armenia - Children play basketball at a school in the town of Gavar, March 9, 2021.

Armenia’s government has no plans to again shut down schools despite a renewed increase in coronavirus cases in the country, a senior official said on Wednesday.

The Armenian Ministry of Health reported in the morning that 340 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, significantly up from the daily number of new cases officially confirmed in early and mid-February.

The ministry also recorded five more fatalities caused by the disease, bringing to 3,237 the official death toll in the county of about 3 million. The figure does not include the deaths of 834 other people infected with the coronavirus. According to the ministry, they were primarily caused by other diseases.

Romela Abovian, a senior official from the ministry’s National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the daily number of COVID-19 infections has nearly doubled in the last two weeks.

Abovian warned that more than 3,000 new cases will be registered in the next few days unless “appropriate measures” are taken to make Armenians again wear masks in public, observe social distancing and stick to other safety rules set by the government.

“If things continue like this we could be faced with a serious problem,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.

Health Minister Anahit Avanesian likewise expressed concern last week about the resurgence of the respiratory disease. She said health authorities have to set up more hospital beds for COVID-19 patients.

According to Abovian, over 90 percent of about 1,000 such beds currently available at hospitals across the country are already occupied by patients. More than 550 of them are in a severe or critical condition, added the official.

Deputy Education Minister Zhanna Andreasian said, meanwhile, that government officials have already discussed implications of the worsening epidemiological situation for Armenian schools.

“We had a discussion in the government with our colleagues from the Ministry of Health,” said Andreasian. “The issue of switching all schools back to online classes was not discussed. There is no such decision.”

“We just need to again strictly follow the existing simple rules: wear masks, frequently wash hands,” she said.

Andreasian also stressed the need to comply with the Ministry of Health’s safety protocols for schools introduced last year.

The government most recently shut down the schools on October 15 following a surge in coronavirus cases. It reopened all of them by December 7.

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