Health 17:04 13/03/2020 Armenia

Are Armenia’s regional healthcare facilities ready to fight coronavirus?

Author Nare Gevorgyan

The sixth case of coronavirus infection has been officially confirmed in Armenia already. It is unclear whether the disease will soon be contained or, on the contrary, it will take a new turn. While a more serious issue is whether the Armenian healthcare facilities will be ready to admit coronavirus patients and provide the necessary medical care to them if the disease further spreads.

The Armenian Ministry of Health says that the citizens infected with coronavirus are being treated only at Nork Infection Clinical Hospital. However, if the virus starts to spread, coronavirus patients will be isolated and treated in all hospitals with infectious diseases departments in the country. tried to find out whether the Armenian provinces have the opportunity to handle possible coronavirus infections.

Shirak Province has an infectious diseases hospital, and at the moment it can house and isolate 75 patients at a time.

Leyli Aslanyan, Head of the Health Division of the Health and Social Security Department at the Shirak Regional Administration, told that the hospital has some of the necessary resources to treat coronavirus patients, adding the hospital the resources are always replenished.

“There is an infectious anti-tuberculosis hospital in Gyumri, and it is now ready to admit, isolate and treat patients. At the moment we are trying to equip this hospital in every possible,” Aslanyan said.

Asked if there are any trained doctors who will be able to serve citizens infected with coronavirus, she said they have received guidelines from the ministry and have submitted them to medical facilities. “We are also holding trainings of doctors based on these guidelines. That is, we are following the instructions of the ministry,” she said.

Nune Gevorgyan, Head of the Health Division of the Health and Social Security Department at the Syunik Regional Administration, told us that all five medical facilities in the region have infectious disease departments.

“The region is fully prepared to isolate and treat patients with coronavirus if needed. Apart from the infectious diseases departments, we have separate buildings in 3 medical centers to serve these patients,” Gevorgyan said, adding that doctors are also properly trained to serve coronavirus patients.

Asked how many beds there are in the hospitals of the province, and how many patients the hospital will be able to house if necessary, Gevorgyan said she cannot not provide such data since there is no right to provide such information of medical importance over the phone. "I can only say that we are completely ready to admit patients should the need arises.”

There is no separate infectious diseases hospital in Kotayk Province, but all hospitals have wards or departments for infectious diseases.

“Four large medical centers have infectious diseases departments. There are 22 staffed beds in these hospitals, but more beds are added during the spread of acute respiratory infections. There has never been a case when a patient is denied treatment due to lack of a bed. Beds are regularly added up. The province has spare beds and can increase the number of beds by up to 50 percent in the infectious diseases department. If we follow this practice, up to 33 beds will be possible to be provided to sick citizens at the same time,” said Ani Chilingaryan, Head of the Health Division of the Health and Social Security Department at Kotayk Regional Administration.

Asked if there are any trained doctors in the province who will be able to provide the necessary medical care to possible coronavirus patients, Chilingaryan said they hold consultations with the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention via Skype every Friday, during which doctors exchange their experience and hold debates. "I don't think we will face any problems in this regard,” she said.

Speaking to, a source from the Ararat Regional Administration only said that the local hospitals have infectious diseases departments, but refused to make any comments on the number of beds in hospitals, the preparedness of doctors and the available necessary medical supplies, asking us to submit a written inquiry.

Vasil Aslanyan, the acting head of the Health and Social Security Department of Vayots Dzor Province, said that they have a well-equipped regional infectious diseases department located in the town of Vayk.

"We held a Skype consultation with the chief epidemiologist chaired by the governor, presenting the demands and problems of the hospitals, after which we were provided with the appropriate medical clothing – face masks, scrubs, eyeglasses,” said Aslanyan, adding they expect to receive a new batch of clothing soon.

According to him, people arriving in Armenia from Iran who experience coronavirus symptoms are immediately sent to Nork Infection Clinical Hospital where they are tested.

"For example, a week ago an Indian tourist applied to us with symptoms of a virus. We immediately sent him to Nork Infection Clinical Hospital where he tested negative for coronavirus and was discharged from the hospital,” he said.

If a coronavirus epidemic emerges in the country, the infectious diseases department of Vayots Dzor Province will be able to accommodate 80 patients at once.

The regional administrations assure that they are able to treat patients in case of the further spread of coronavirus in the country, but there is no need to panic because the illness is not so serious, and if citizens follow the Health Ministry's recommendations and the personal hygiene habits, it will be easier to avoid the disease.

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