Health 16:36 10/04/2021 Armenia

Coronavirus situation in Armenia ‘very serious’, expert warns

The coronavirus cases in Armenia have been surging for nearly a month. About 20-25% of the daily Covid-19 tests are positive, with the health authorities warning that there are patients waiting their turn for hospitalization. correspondent talked to Romella Abovyan, the head of a department at the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ministry of Health, about the possible reasons for the coronavirus resurgence in Armenia and the measures taken to stop it. Ms. Abovyan, what is the reason for the Covid-19 surge over the recent period and is there a downward trend?

Romella Abovyan: No downward trend has been observed yet. There is some stabilization in the high numbers recorded, that is, more than 1,000 daily cases are still registered.

The growth is due to mass non-compliance with safety rules since February, both among the population and in organizations. Of course, efforts have been made to step up control in some areas, but all the same, the rules that were observed before are not followed en masse now. If this situation continues, we may face a very serious problem. Given that we recently celebrated Easter and there were active contacts, we do not exclude that in 14 days the daily numbers may further rise.

I cannot say if the cases will reach the numbers of October 2020, because October was an exceptional month, which saw many other factors contributing to the increase in the number of cases. With the exception of October, we have not had such high infection rates since the coronavirus outbreak. These numbers are specifically the result of a decrease in the vigilance of the public and heads of organizations over compliance with safety rules. What specific measures are being taken to stop the increase in the incidence of coronavirus?

Romella Abovyan: Measures are being taken in different areas. We work with all competent authorities, including inspection bodies, notify them of the number of coronavirus cases in different organizations to strengthen control. Efforts are underway to increase vigilance among the people, as well as to involve new hospitals in coronavirus treatment, since there are no beds available anymore. The healthcare system is overwhelmed and cannot provide care to all patients. There are patients waiting their turn.

In addition, depending on the situation, various proposals are developed and introduced in line with the powers of the ministries. At the same time, we see overcrowded public transport minibuses on the roads.

Romella Abovyan: I agree with you. We have submitted proposals to the competent authority to strengthen control in public transport. This is the case not only in public transport, but also in wholesale and retail trade centers and shopping malls. We no longer know how to make people understand that the situation is really very serious in Armenia, as well as throughout the world. How is the situation in schools? Are many cases recorded?

Romella Abovyan: We have recorded an increase in the cases among those under 23 years of age, with the new cases growing significantly in the past 14 days compared to the previous two weeks. The numbers include those people who had symptoms and applied to a medical center for treatment. I'm not even talking about asymptomatic cases, because it is said worldwide that children usually develop no symptoms, they just can spread the infection. Have you noticed any changes in the manifestation of the coronavirus disease since its outbreak?

Romella Abovyan: Doctors treating coronavirus patients will probably answer this question more correctly. But the UK coronavirus strain has already been recorded in Armenia, and the WHO warns about only one of its main proved features. In particular, the latter is spreading rather quickly, i.e. the reproducibility of the virus is 36% higher than the original strain. The daily figures show that the number of deaths from coronavirus has also increased.

Romella Abovyan: If the number of new cases rises, as a matter of fact the number of deaths also grows after two weeks. But the causes of death can be different, mainly due to the fact that after experiencing symptoms, people move to treat themselves at home through various methods for a long time, in particular, with the use of hormones, antibiotics, which further worsens the patient's condition and the patient is admitted to hospital in a serious or critical condition.

Availing myself of the opportunity, I would like to once again urge the people to see a doctor immediately after experiencing symptoms and receive only prescribed treatment. As for antimicrobial drugs, they are not intended for the treatment of the coronavirus infection, but the secondary pneumonia and should be taken only by a doctor’s prescription with specific doses and timeframes, otherwise they may have the opposite effect on health.

Incidentally, the mean age of death from Covid-19 remains 71 years old. How is the vaccination proceeding? Have the vaccinated people experienced any health issues?

Romella Abovyan: Some 600 people have been vaccinated with Sputnik V. It has started with the risk group – medical workers. No emergency cases or unfavorable outcomes have been recorded. Thank you.

Interview by Tatevik Manukyan

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