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Armenian Hospitals Overwhelmed By ‘Third COVID-19 Wave’


Armenia -- A healthcare worker clad in protective gear looks after COVID-19 patients at the Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, Yerevan, June 5, 2020.

Armenian hospitals appeared to have practically run out of vacant beds for COVID-19 patients on Tuesday amid what health officials described as a third wave of coronavirus infections in the country.

According to the Armenian Ministry of Health, about 300 people severely infected with the disease awaited hospitalization in their homes early in the afternoon.

Deputy Health Minister Gevorg Simonian acknowledged that the waiting list resulted not only from logistical problems but also a shortage of hospital beds.

The authorities have already nearly doubled the number of hospitals across Armenia treating COVID-19 patients to cope with a resurgence of coronavirus cases that began a month ago.

Simonian said that the total number of such hospital beds now stands at 2,171. The authorities could add another 300 beds if necessary, he said.

The Ministry of Health reported in the morning that 750 Armenians tested positive for the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, sharply up from an average of 183 cases a day recorded in February. It said the number of active cases rose to almost 14,500 from 6,772 registered on March 11.

The ministry also reported at least 21 more deaths, bringing the official death toll from the disease to 3,497.

In Simonian’s words, 228 infected and hospitalized persons were in a critical condition as of Tuesday.

“Specialists from all medical centers assert that the proportion of patients in a serious condition has increased during this third wave of infections,” said the vice-minister. He suggested that this is the result of the prevalence of new, more severe variants of the virus detected late last year.

Armenia -- People attend a rally organized by supporters of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Yerevan, Armenia March 1, 2021.
Armenia -- People attend a rally organized by supporters of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian in Yerevan, Armenia March 1, 2021.

An Armenian government commission dealing with the coronavirus pandemic discussed the worsening epidemiological situation in the country on Monday at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian. The latter ordered relevant state bodies to step up the enforcement of the government’s sanitary rules meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Critics say that Pashinian himself contributed to the renewed increase of coronavirus cases by holding pro-government rallies in and outside Yerevan over the past month. Armenian opposition parties have staged even more rallies in the capital.

Varduhi Petrosian, a public health expert, said that widespread disregard for the safety rules in enclosed spaces has been another serious factor behind the coronavirus resurgence. She argued that few Armenians now wear mandatory masks not only on the street but also in shops and even public buses.

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