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Armenian Official Expects Fresh Surge In COVID-19 Cases


ARMENIA -- Supporters of Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian attend a rally in the center Yerevan, June 17, 2021

Coronavirus infections in Armenia will likely soar again in the coming weeks after falling this month to the lowest level in a year, a senior public health official warned on Friday.

The Armenian Ministry of Health said that only 102 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the past day, sharply down from over 1,000 cases a day repeatedly recorded in the country of about 3 million in the first half of April.

The downward trend began in late April despite a continuing lax enforcement of social distancing and sanitary rules imposed by the Armenian government a year ago. It continued even after the government formally allowed people not to wear masks outdoors. Most of them stopped doing that early this year.

The daily number of new cases reported by the Ministry of Health in the course of this month was usually below 100.

Gayane Sahakian, the deputy head of the ministry’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said it is now on course to rise again.

“While the rate of virus reproduction in the county varied from 0.3 to 0.5 three or four weeks ago we can say now that it’s above 1,” Sahakian told a news conference. She said Armenia should record at least 600 cases a day within weeks.

Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan's Nor Nork district, June 9, 2021.
Armenia - Supporters of former President Robert Kocharian and his opposition alliance attend an election campaign rally in Yerevan's Nor Nork district, June 9, 2021.

The country held on Sunday parliamentary elections after two weeks of intense campaigning. Very few people wore masks or observed physical distancing during campaign gatherings organized by numerous political groups. Some pre-election rallies attracted tens of thousands of people.

Sahakian acknowledged that the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 will also contribute to a fresh wave of infections.

The Delta variant is already prevalent in Russia, the number one source of foreign tourists visiting Armenia.

Sahakian said the continuing lack of a popular interest in COVID-19 vaccination also bodes ill for the epidemiological situation in the country. Only 2 percent of its population has received a first dose of a vaccine so far, she said.

The Armenian health authorities have recorded just over 5,600 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

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