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Armenia Sees Hospital Bed Shortage Amid ‘Third Wave’ Of Coronavirus


A COVID-19 patient and a medic at the intensive care unit of Surp Grigor Lusavorich Hospital in Yerevan, Armenia (archive photo)

Intensive care units are full and dozens of patients with coronavirus symptoms have to wait for their turn to be hospitalized in Armenia as the South Caucasus country is experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases, according to healthcare officials.

The Health Ministry said on March 23 that 24 people had died from COVID-19 within the previous 24 hours, while the number of new coronavirus cases was over 800.

This is the same or even higher rate that Armenia had in the fall when the so-called second wave of the pandemic was observed globally.

According to official data, over 185,000 people have been infected with the coronavirus in Armenia since the start of the pandemic, with nearly 3,400 related deaths.

The number of current active cases is nearly 12,000.

Last week, Armenian Health Minister Anahit Avanesian said that more hospital beds were being deployed to cope with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases that many local experts call a “third wave” of coronavirus infections.

According to the ministry, the number of hospitals treating COVID-19 patients has been nearly doubled in recent days. Today a total of 19 hospitals take care for COVID-19 patients in Yerevan, Gyumri, Martuni, Spitak and Kapan.

Knar Ghonian, head of the Health Ministry’s Medical Aid Policy Department, said that currently almost all beds at intensive care units are occupied. “We have 730 [COVID-19] patients who are in serious condition and 165 patients who are in critical condition today, with 60 of them breathing through oxygen devices,” Ghonian said.

According to the official, “we are back to a situation when patients have to wait for hospitalization at home.”

“Out of 270 patients needing hospitalization that were registered by our triage center since yesterday, 22 still continued to wait for hospitalization as of [March 23] morning. About 10 of them were at home, while others were in hospitals not specialized in treating COVID-19 patients,” Ghonian added.

While healthcare experts voice concern about the current epidemiological situation in Armenia, former Minister of Health Arsen Torosian, who currently serves as chief of the prime minister’s staff, said earlier this week that the government is unlikely to introduce another lockdown.

The latest wave of infections in Armenia came amid a weeks-long political crisis during which supporters of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and the opposition have been holding large-scale rallies.

Torosian attended one of the recent pro-Pashinian rallies and was noticed not wearing a face mask.

“If I didn’t wear a mask even for a while, I apologize for that. I should have been in a mask. I accept the criticism and again call on everyone to wear masks regardless of circumstances,” Torosian said, talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Monday.

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