Avanesian issued the warning after health authorities registered the largest single-day number of cases in more than two months.
The Armenian Ministry of Health reported in the morning that 748 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past day, sharply up from an average of 183 cases a day recorded in February. The daily number of officially confirmed infections averaged 407 in the first ten days of March.
“As we predicted last week, we have a major increase in the disease,” Avanesian told a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “Right now there are 6,772 active cases and 901 of these people are hospitalized.”
Avanesian said that the nine Armenian hospitals treating COVID-19 patients currently have about 100 vacant beds and the authorities are setting up more such beds to cope with the growing number of serious cases.
“But I want to warn that the number of beds is not unlimited and everything must be done to make sure that the number of patients does not exceed our [hospital] capacity and that we again don’t have patients who cannot be hospitalized and have to stay at home,” she said.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian expressed concern at the worsening epidemiological situation in Armenia. He urged citizens to comply with sanitary rules set by his government following the onset of the pandemic last year.
Pashinian did not say whether the authorities are planning to resume a strict enforcement of those rules, which include mandatory mask-wearing in all public areas.
The authorities largely stopped fining people not wearing masks following the September 27 outbreak of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. The daily number of new COVID-19 cases reported by them grew rapidly as a result. It began steadily falling in mid-November.
Few Armenians now wear masks not only on the street but also in shops. Cafes and restaurants across the country have remained open since last May.
Health experts believe that recent rallies held in Yerevan by both the Armenian opposition and the government have also contributed to the resurgence of coronavirus cases.