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Armenia Closes its Last Open Border while COVID-19 Cases Jump to 15 

The number of COVID-19 infections jump to 15 on March 14, 2020 with at least 7 of the cases being associated with infection at a family celebration in Etchmiatsin. The government has banned passenger crossing of the last remaining open border with Georgia until March 24. Classes in all educational and preschool institutions remain cancelled at least until March 24. 

The government has decided to close the border with Georgia from March 14 to 24, while cargo transportation will be allowed with medical oversight. People will still be allowed a last chance to return home.

Around 200 persons have been quarantined, according to Minister Arsen Torosyan. At least 2 cases are detected within the first group of 31 persons quarantined on March 1, while 28 of them are released home. Positive test results are obtained for those quarantined from the family gathering in Etchmiatsin. Of the 15 confirmed cases, all patients have mild symptoms but 1 person who is undergoing treatment for pneumonia.

Preschools, secondary schools, higher educational institutions and all those institutions where extracurricular activities are held will remain closed until at least March 24. The Ministry of Education is encouraging educational institutions to switch to online classes, while it is intensifying efforts to create such platforms. Distance learning is not practiced by the majority of educational institutions, moreover by secondary schools in Armenia as such infrastructure and practice is lacking.

The government is calling on the population to refrain from public events and stay at home emphasizing everyone’s individual responsibility of not spreading the virus. Discussions in social media include public ostracism and calls for punishment of individuals who were declared “patient zero” but were not isolated immediately and had a chance to interact with people.

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