“While we registered up to 200 cases a day last week, their number has gone above 200 this week,” said Deputy Health Minister Lena Nanushian. “We reported 220 cases yesterday and 225 today.”
“According to our projections, the upward trend will continue in the coming days,” Nanushian added during a weekly session of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s government.
The Armenian Ministry of Health routinely reported fewer than 100 coronavirus cases a day in early and mid-June.
The daily number of officially confirmed cases began falling in late April despite a lax enforcement of social distancing and sanitary rules imposed by the government a year ago. The steady decline continued even after the government formally allowed people not to wear masks outdoors. Most of them stopped doing that early this year.
Nanushian said vaccination is the most effective way to deal with the resurgence of the disease which has already directly or indirectly caused, according to official statistics, 5,688 deaths in the country of about 3 million.
“Since the government has made vaccines available free of charge to all individuals over the age of 17, I am calling on our citizens to take advantage of this opportunity before this wave [of infections] observed by us intensifies,” she said.
Pashinian added his voice to the appeal and again told the Ministry of Health and other government agencies to do more to vaccinate the population. He also said the authorities may have to step up the enforcement of mandatory mask-wearing in enclosed spaces in response to the renewed rise in COVID-19 cases.
According to the ministry, only some 144,000 people making up about 5 percent of Armenia’s population have received a first or second dose of a coronavirus vaccine since the government launched its immunization campaign four months ago. The figure includes hundreds and possibly thousands of Iranians who have visited the country in recent weeks to get free vaccine shots.
“At the moment we do have very low vaccination rates that cannot make a difference,” acknowledged Gayane Sahakian, the deputy head of the ministry’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“A fresh slow increase [in coronavirus cases] has already started and we will soon be grappling with large coronavirus numbers,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Nanushian told Pashinian that the number of people getting inoculated in Armenia on a daily basis has increased of late and currently exceeds 5,000. Pashinian said the authorities must “keep up this tempo” in the weeks and months ahead.