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Armenian Health Ministry Seeks COVID-19 Health Pass


Armenia - Police officers talk to women not wearing mandatory masks on a street in downtown Yerevan, November 2, 2021.

The Ministry of Health advocated on Thursday the introduction of a mandatory health pass for entry to cultural and leisure venues following record numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths registered in Armenia.

Health Minister Anahit Avanesian said the ministry will circulate later in the day a relevant draft decision that will be discussed by an interagency commission.

It would require people to produce, starting from December 1, the health pass showing that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a recent negative test in order to visit bars, restaurants and other public venues.

Armenians working for public or private entities already have to get inoculated or take coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense. The draft Ministry of Health directive cited by Avanesian would require such mandatory testing to be done once a week.

Armenia - People line up outside a mobile vaccination center in Yerevan's Liberty Square, September 24, 2021.
Armenia - People line up outside a mobile vaccination center in Yerevan's Liberty Square, September 24, 2021.

The purpose of the proposed measures is to speed up vaccinations and thereby contain the latest wave of coronavirus infections in Armenia. Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian complained that the vaccination process remains slow despite having accelerated in recent weeks.

Avanesian told the cabinet that more than 852,000 vaccine shots have been administered in the country of about 3 million to date. Only about 264,000 people have received two doses of a vaccine, she said.

Daily coronavirus cases have steadily increased since June, reaching record-high levels late last month. The Ministry of Health reported a record 62 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The ministry’s National Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the respiratory disease killed at least 41 more Armenians on Wednesday. The center also said that as much as 19 percent of about 12,200 coronavirus tests carried out across the country came back positive.

Armenia - Health Minister Anahit Avanesian speaks during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, November 4, 2021.
Armenia - Health Minister Anahit Avanesian speaks during a cabinet meeting in Yerevan, November 4, 2021.

Avanesian said Armenian hospitals remain overwhelmed by the increased number of infected people in need of urgent care.

“We have a slight drop in the number of citizens awaiting hospitalization but [hospital] beds still don’t stay vacant for a single second,” she told Pashinian and fellow ministers.

Pashinian made clear that the government still has no plans to impose lockdown restrictions and will continue to concentrate on its immunization campaign. For his part, Education Minister Vahram Dumanian said he is unlikely to again extend school holidays that end on November 7.

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