On the morning of February 28, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan announced that the first case of the new coronavirus infection was detected in Armenia. Closure of the border with Iran did not stop the viral infection from passing through Armenia. A male citizen of Armenia returning home from Iran felt unwell, turned to the hospital and tested positive.
A double test of a 29-year-old male confirmed that he was infected with the new coronavirus. While the government made a decision to stop passenger transport between Armenia and Iran on February 24, it allowed cargo transportation to take place under strict medical supervision and the return of citizens of each country to their home state. The wife of the 29-year-old infected man tested negative.
The government reports that around 30 individuals in contact with the 29-year-old man have been isolated in a quarantine regiment. Prime Minister Pashinyan wrote on his Facebook that the government is doing its best to control the situation. Isolated individuals will be kept in hotel facilities in separated conditions under medical control.
In the meantime, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan gave a press conference on February 28 addressing some pressing questions, including the lack of masks in drug stores, emergency measures undertaken by the Ministry etc. Healthcare facilities have received instructions and masks, the Ministry is doing its best, according to Minister Torosyan, however Armenia does not have capacities to produce its own masks and the global commercial suppliers of masks, China and Iran, are in shortage of masks themselves.
Minister of Education Arayik Harutyunyan announced that the spring school holidays will be transferred from the second half of March to the beginning, meaning that on March 2, public schools will be closed for a week. Later in the evening of February 28, it was announced that all educational institutions, including vocational and higher educational institutions are instructed not to work for a week beginning on March 2nd.
The ruling party Civil Contract has also decided to call off the march planned on the occasion of March 1st, the violent crack-down of protests in 2008 and death of 10 citizens. March 1 commemoration in the form of a people’s march has been organized ever since 2009 despite restrictions of political rights in Armenia.