Starting from October 1, virtually all employees of Armenia’s public and private entities have been required to get inoculated or take coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense. Health authorities introduced the requirement in a bid to increase the slow pace of vaccinations which greatly contributed to a resurgence of COVID-19 in the country.
Speaking during an October 7 cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian ordered law-enforcement authorities to crack down on medics who he said issue fake vaccination certificates to individuals refusing to be vaccinated. The Armenian police and National Security Service announced a few days later the first arrests of employees of policlinics serving as the country’s principal vaccination centers.
The Office of the Prosecutor-General said on Wednesday that 15 medical workers have been charged with selling fake vaccination certificates as well as documents showing negative test results to a total of about 310 people. The latter paid from 5,000 to 40,000 drams ($10-$84) per document, it said in a statement.
The statement added that nine of the suspects are currently under arrest pending investigation. Investigators are continuing to take “large-scale measures” to expose more such forgeries, it said.
The prosecutors urged Armenian medical personnel to avoid such practices, warning that they would risk “strict” punishment.
According to the Armenian Ministry of Health, nearly 614,000 people in the country of about 3 million received at least one dose of a vaccine as of November 7. Only around 10 percent of the country’s population was fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Armenia’s daily coronavirus death toll hit a new record after months of a steady increase in infections. The Ministry of Health said 69 people died from COVID-19 on Tuesday.