“We are drawing up a package of certain restrictions, rather than obligatory [vaccinations,] which will be presented to the public in the second half of August,” Avanesian told reporters. “This disease poses a danger to the public and we can see the chaos caused by it countries where it gets out of control.”
“Every citizen must make their contribution to ultimately creating collective immunity” against the coronavirus, she said without shedding light on the planned measures.
Avanesian signaled earlier this month that health authorities could press some population groups such as schoolteachers to get vaccinated. She argued that schools have been a major hotbed of coronavirus infections.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has repeatedly instructed the Ministry of Health and other government agencies to do more to speed up the vaccination process. He said last week that they must make sure that at least 5,000 people are inoculated on a daily basis.
The Ministry of Health said on Monday that only 152,529 vaccine shots have been administered since the launch of the government’s immunization campaign in April. The figure stood at just over 131,000 on July 19, meaning that roughly 3,000 people a day have been inoculated in the country of about 3 million in the past week.
Government data shows that the vaccination process has significantly accelerated in the last few weeks. Health experts caution, however, it is still too slow to seriously curb the spread of COVID-19.
While acknowledging that vaccine hesitancy remains a serious problem Avanesian insisted that most Armenians are now ready to get vaccinated.
“The vast majority of people think that they need to be vaccinated. But since [new coronavirus] cases are not that many right now, they feel that they can wait a little more,” said the minister.
The daily number of infections recorded by Avanesian’s ministry fell to less than 100 in June, the lowest level in a year, before showing signs of renewed increase this month. The ministry on Monday put the total number of active coronavirus cases at 4,037, up from 2,547 cases reported on June 21.
“The increase is not drastic,” said Avanesian. “It’s rather gradual. But we do realize that we are in danger of facing a new wave [of infections,] especially in the first half of the autumn.”
The Armenian authorities have registered more than 5,700 coronavirus-related deaths to date.