Health 15:26 27/02/2020 Armenia

Face masks, disinfectants, viruses, coronavirus: What to do to prevent and prepare

Although the number of acute respiratory infection cases seem to be dropping across Armenia, especially in schools and kindergartens, the public continue to be alarmed by the coronavirus outbreak which keeps spreading to new parts of the world.

Due to the seasonal increase in acute respiratory infections, people have no confidence in resisting the possible coronavirus outbreak in the country. They think if the seasonal infections failed to be prevented and children are getting sick for a second time, what would happen if the new virus hit the country.

Amid the absence of expert advice on the new virus prevention citizens take precautionary measures on their own. As a result, pharmacies in the country are short of face masks.

The coronavirus outbreak has already gripped Iran, Georgia has reported the first confirmed coronavirus case, while there are still no social advertisements and warning posters on the disease in Armenia. There is also a lack of public confidence that the country's Health Ministry has elaborated a policy to prevent or combat the virus.

The media outlets are trying to fill the gap by spreading reports on how to prepare for the possible spread of Covid-19 in Armenia.

However, experts are unable to make it clear how to difference between the flu and novel coronavirus and what measures to take to avoid getting sick. 

One of the reasons is that the novel coronavirus has the same symptoms as the influenza and a diagnostic test must be carried out to tell if a person is infected with coronavirus or not.

However, experts insist that certain rules should be followed to avoid any virus transmitted through the air.

Speaking to, epidemiologist Vladimir Davidyants stressed the need for a patient’s isolation as a basic step to prevent the spread of an infection.

He urged parents not to send their children with flu to school, keep them in a separate room and feed them with vitamin-rich food. He also called for ventilating the room of a flu patient and cleaning the dust several times a day.

“The patient should also wash his hands with running water. These are the simplest steps that a person with the flu should take,” Vladimir Davidyants said.

Deputy Director of Nork Infection Clinical Hospital Eduard Zardaryan advised people to carry disinfectants with them and to wipe hands with these substances several times a day.

“It is a priority for an infected citizen to wear a face mask when appearing in public places to prevent others from being infected. In addition, you must wash your hands constantly, and if there is no running water, such as when getting off public transport, you should clean your hands with disinfectants. People need to be aware of such measures. It is much more desirable for a patient to stay indoors. A school student should be treated at home first then go back to school,” Zardaryan said.

Asked about the alternative options amid surgical mask shortage in the country’s pharmacies, Eduard Zardaryan said that it is possible to make a face mask at home too using gauze, which however, cannot be used no longer than two hours.

“But I want to reiterate that sick people should stay at home not to infect others. And if they leave home, they must wear a face mask,” he said.

In schools and kindergartens, too, children need to repeatedly wash their hands, with experts stressing the importance of keeping classrooms ventilated and clean.

This requirement is most certainly met in few schools, as parents report that there is no soap or napkins in the schools. The Ministry of Health says that they provide schools with specific norms, which are monitored by the municipality and regional administrations. The health authorities visit schools only after receiving reports to monitor the sanitation conditions in the school buildings.

Speaking to, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Armenian Ministry of Health said that it is necessary to follow the rules of hand hygiene, as well as cough and sneeze hygiene in order not to get infected with coronavirus or acute respiratory diseases. When coughing or sneezing you should close your mouth and nose with an elbow or a napkin, throwing a napkin into a trash bin immediately after using it.

To prevent the disease, it is advisable to avoid unprotected contact with animals using personal protective equipment and thoroughly wash your hands after such a contact. Health officials also recommend overcooking the meat before using it.

Experts also advise people to consume plenty of fluids to get rid of toxic substances.

According to our interviewed doctors, dust in the air increases the risk of getting seasonal viruses, as many viruses survive longer in dust.

But what steps are being taken to clean the dusty air in the city?

Asked if the municipality is taking any measures to get rid of dust in the air, Yerevan Municipality spokesman Hakob Karapetyan said that the municipal authorities carry out greenization and supervise compliance of construction norms.

"With these two options we fight against dust in the air. The municipality’s functions are limited to these two,” Karapetyan said.

In response to our question whether there is any other way to clean the duty air, Karapetyan said that it is a narrow professional issue, maybe there is, but the municipality fights the air pollution with these two measures.

And perhaps no one fights the dust raised by the wind.

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