The Armenian Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday morning that 615 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the past day, up from less than 100 cases a day routinely recorded in early and mid-June. It also registered 15 more deaths directly or indirectly caused by COVID-19.
Deputy Health Minister Gevorg Simonian rang alarm bells over the epidemiological situation late on Tuesday, saying that it is “increasingly deteriorating.”
In a Facebook post, Simonian warned that the 14 hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients have only 235 vacant beds at the moment. “About 700 patients are in a severe and 125 others in a critical condition,” he wrote.
“The situation is really tense and concerning,” Naira Stepanian, the deputy director of Yerevan’s Nork Hospital for Infectious Diseases, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Wednesday.
“Phone calls received by us have begun increasing again. Behind every phone call is a [coronavirus] case evaluated as severe or critical,” she said.
According to Stepanian, the Nork hospital’s intensive-care unit had only two available beds as of Wednesday morning. Virtually all patients treated there were under the age of 60, a further sign that the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has become prevalent in Armenia as well.
In response to the latest resurgence of coronavirus cases, the Armenian government has pledged in recent weeks to toughen its lax enforcement of anti-epidemic rules imposed by it last year. The rules include mandatory mask wearing inside buses, shops and offices.
Most Armenians still do not wear masks indoors, however.
The spread of the disease is also facilitated by a very slow pace of the government’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign launched in April.
According to the Ministry of Health, a total of 275,138 vaccine shots were administered in the country of about 3 million as of August 29. Only 98,586 people making up less than 5 percent of the population were fully vaccinated.
The ministry has recorded just over 6,000 coronavirus-related deaths to date.