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COVID-19 Continues to Surge in Armenia, Government Takes hold of Management of Private Hospitals

The number of new daily cases for the past week in Armenia remains within an average of 550. In the past day, 18 persons perished to COVID, of which 7 are reported from other illness. The total record of COVID-19 cases is almost 31.000 in a country well under 3mln. Active cases remain around 12.000, while 723 people have died including 177 from other conditions but accompanied with COVID-19. The age of the diseased people ranges between 60 and 85 on average.

The government has decided to extend the period of state of exception. The number of hospital beds attending COVID-19 patients has been expanded to 2600, with 300 in intensive care units. 650 patients remain in a critical condition, of which 37 are intubated. There are almost no vacant beds in the hospitals, the health system is overburdened, nonetheless the number of patients waiting at home for hospitalization is minimal on a daily bases, around a dozen individuals have to wait for only a few days according to Minister Torosyan.

“The situation remains severe. A second wave of spread is recorded in countries where it seemed to have been halted. The strategy of the [Armenian] government remains the same; to cope with the situation through the individual behavior of citizens and their cooperation. Only administrative measures will not yield result unless we have mass behavioral change in Armenia,” said Prime Minister Pashinyan on July 6. “We have set the red line, if we cross it, if the health system will not be able to bear the brunt and serve the population, we will have to return to restrictions and perhaps stricter restrictions, being well aware that it will be a huge blow to our economy.”

In the meanwhile, by a government decree, all hospitals with the exception of the military ones will be managed in a unified manner by the Ministry of Health. The unified health management system will include both state and private hospitals.

During the state of exception (emergency), population medical assistance and care will be organized in accordance with the decrees of the Minister of Health. The decrees will extend upon private health institutions as well. Non-abidance is punishable by law.

All health workers that do not have respective qualification and training, students in their medical internships will have to undergo training and be engaged in medical assistance.

Avoidance from these regulations will be punished by regulations of the administrative offences.

This measure adopted in an emergency situation is similar to the one in the Law on Military State, adopted last year.

“On a situational basis it will be decided which hospitals will be given coordinated orders and in what capacity. The second mandatory component is the recruitment of medical staff in order for the health system to be able to tackle the challenges of the emergency,” said Health Minister Torosyan in Cabinet meeting on July 9.

This is an unprecedented move for a country that has for the past 30 years seen only rampant privatization of the health system, budget cuts, “optimization” of medical staff.

Tekali Taxi