Interviews and press conferences

Nikol Pashinyan: “The Government will do its utmost, but the effort, position, behavior of one person is much more important, and you are that one person."


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After a regular meeting of the Commandant’s Office, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan held a daily briefing with Mher Davidyants, Director of Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital, and Vaghinak Minasyan, Senior Police Lieutenant, Inspector of the 5th Special Battalion of the Yerevan Police Department.

To being with, the Premier advised that at present about 200 coronavirus patients in Armenia are waiting for their turn to be hospitalized. “I am saying this with a feeling of deep bitterness, but today there are about 200 patients waiting for their turn to be hospitalized. In other words, our healthcare system is working so hard that we do not have time to accommodate them. Moreover, we already have a case when a person infected with the coronavirus died due to delay in medical care,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

The Prime Minister noted that the reasons for delay are twofold. The patient’s relatives were a little late in passing the correct information to the healthcare system. Information arrived too late; the reaction was delayed and resulted in the patient’s death.

The Premier stressed that the Commandant’s Office meeting participants came close to the decision on the announcement of a total lockdown, but following some discussion they noted that such a decision might not lead to the desired outcome.

“This is not the right solution, not only because we might face challenging economic consequences, but by and large because we are convinced that the poor quality of enforcing the quarantine would preclude us from achieving the desired results. The flash mob of recent days has convinced us that we are dealing with such total non-compliance with the established rules that if we now close the borders of the settlements of the Republic of Armenia, we will come across with instances of non-compliance in buildings, courtyards, etc. We might thereby break down the backbone of the economy, and eventually return to some 600-700 new cases per day as soon as the lockdown is lifted,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

The Head of Government said the country has reached a critical point and is going through hell. “The solution to this problem, at least in the medium term, can only be achieved when a truly nationwide anti-epidemic movement sparks in Armenia, and each of us will proceed from the assumption that he / she and his relatives may die due to a shortage of hospital beds. Each of us should be guided by the presumption that he or she is infected and should not infect others,” the Prime Minister said.

The Premier noted that the World Health Organization has reconsidered its previous estimate as regards the mandatory requirement of wearing masks in public areas. “Today’s WHO assessment is exactly in line with our decisions. Consequently, one of the most important tasks of the anti-epidemic movement should be to neutralize counter-measures regarding anti-epidemic actions and provide total support to the government in taking anti-epidemic steps. We have only one way out of this situation: walking out of hell until we reach the other side. We have already crossed the red line where the hell begins. But I would like to say that the government is taking two steps in this situation: first, we speak directly, honestly and keep in close touch with society, and second, we are taking all necessary steps to increase the number of beds in hospitals and intensive care units,” the Prime Minister emphasized.

Director of the Nork Infectious Diseases Clinical Hospital Mher Davidyants noted that for two months now the hospital staff has not known what rest is. “We are all cut off from our families and spend all day in the hospital. There are cases when a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, but the infection runs in a very mild form, in some cases asymptomatic, but in this case there is an essential fact: if we take this situation seriously, if we do not strictly follow the prescribed rules and measures, we will jeopardize the health and life of those around us. Let us not forget that our parents and grandparents are among them,” he said, adding that recently the disease has changed its course, and if in March there were mainly mild and moderate cases, now severe and extremely severe cases prevail. “I consider it important to single out cases when people turned for medical help too late, and in the reception we saw a group of people with low oxygen, and, unfortunately, we have problems with the stock of available beds,” Mr. Davidyants said, urging citizens to help the country’s healthcare staff and comply with anti-epidemic rules.

“Dear citizens, I am now asking all of you to help us, the medical workers. We have been working without any complaint in recent months and will continue to do so. I told my team that we will fight until the last patient is discharged. I ask everyone to observe the anti-epidemic measures: please wear masks, strictly limit the scope of your contacts, leave home only in case of emergency, disinfect your hands frequently and observe social distancing rules,” Mr. Davidyants said.

Senior Lieutenant of Police Vaginak Minasyan reminded that during the non-violent velvet revolution he heard people shouting the slogan: “Police officers are ours.” “Today, at this difficult time, a patrol policeman is talking to you, who is on duty almost all day, on all streets, in yards, on interstate roads. We monitor compliance with the legal regime established by the Commandant’s Office. However, there are times when our compatriots do not want to abide by the applicable legal regime. In many cases, their attitude is to create artificial stress. I urge all our compatriots to observe the legal regime established by the Commandant’s Office, not to wear masks so that they are seen below the nose or below the mouth. Our goal is not to fine citizens, we tend to believe that every citizen should have a sufficient legal awareness to understand the seriousness of their actions. Wear masks properly to save lives,” the senior police lieutenant said.

Coming to the refurbishment of the healthcare system, the Prime Minister noted that some 2000 beds - 5 in Yerevan, the rest in the provinces - have been accommodated in 9 medical institutions to serve infected people. These institutions have been re-profiled and continue to serve patients. A module with about 35 waiting rooms has been designed and constructed in the Nork Infectious Diseases Clinical Hospital.

“Today another such facility will be set up on the basis of the Burns Center. Only the Nork Infectious Diseases Clinical Hospital has been performing this function as of now. There are 65 regular beds in the new center and 9 in the intensive care unit,” Nikol Pashinyan said, noting that 58 more beds are expected to replenish the current stock. In general, the number of beds will be brought to 132. He advised that new beds are being added at Astghik Medical Center: about 20 beds in the reanimation ward, and 20 in the intensive care unit.

The construction of a second intensive care unit with 50 beds has started at the St. Gregory the Illuminator medical center. Work is underway to add about 50 beds in the intensive care unit of Erebuni Medical Center. The above 100 beds will be ready to receive patients in about a month and a half.

“Hospital and intensive care wards are set up every day, but I want to emphasize that at such a rate of spread of coronavirus there will never be such a situation that their number is satisfactory. For example, the situation is the same in New York, which is one of the most developed cities in the world. We have crossed the line of hell, but we have not experienced a humanitarian catastrophe so far. The Government will do its utmost, but the effort, position, behavior of one person is much more important, and you are that one person.” the Prime Minister said.

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