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"In No Case Should There be Panic in Armenia, and the Government Shall Safeguard the Population Against Panic": Nikol Pashinyan

Chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the Commission for Coordination of Efforts to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus in Armenia today met in the Office of Government.

Healthcare Minister Arsen Torosyan provided statistics on the prevalence of coronavirus in Armenia, in the region and across the globe. He noted that the current situation in Armenia is the same as yesterday: there is one positive test, and 31 quarantined people whose health status is satisfactory. A total of 120 laboratory tests have been conducted, and only one of them proved positive.

Today 9 more tests will be conducted; the results will be published as soon as received. Enhanced control at border checkpoints continues, all trucks arriving from the Meghri border checkpoint are accompanied by Healthcare Ministry specialists and the police, Iranian citizens shall be under control throughout Armenia, including at the QGD customs warehouses, until they return to their homeland. Control over drivers of Armenian citizenship shall be exercised at the place of residence.

Minister Torosyan advised that the World Health Organization calls for individual fever checks.

Branch works and further steps in the fight against coronavirus were discussed at the meeting. The Prime Minister gave relevant instructions to those responsible.

Summing up the meeting, Nikol Pashinyan said: “First, let us note that, fortunately, we have not had any adverse changes since yesterday, that is, we have no new cases of coronavirus. During this time several suspicious cases were diagnosed and the result was negative. We are currently awaiting the results of 9 tests and will inform the public thereon as soon as we have the answers. We hope that the tests will prove negative, but if, God forbid, they are confirmed, we will report the public about it. Nevertheless, this should not be a reason for panic, because I am reiterating that the disease is being treated. The only patient we have is not being treated at this point of time, because he has no complaints, no symptoms, and even no fever. At first he had a high temperature for a short time. Now this man is watching TV in his ward at the Acute Infectious Diseases Medical Center. Our citizens who are in the Golden Palace hotel complex are fine, too: no one has any symptoms at the moment. They have no temperature, no problems.

Yesterday we diagnosed 3 or 4 suspicious cases, all negative. Today we are likely to test nine people during the day. If the first result is positive, we will re-test them, i.e. the public will know the final results after the re-test.

Now let us talk about today’s decisions. Taking into consideration the epidemic situation in our region, we decided to prolong and strengthen the restrictions on the Armenian-Iranian border, we will start the process of abolition of the visa-free regime with Iran, and the visa regime will be restored within 5 days. We keep in close touch with our Iranian colleagues. We expressed readiness to support to the friendly people Iran and the Iranian government in addressing the situation.

The Task Force calls on our fellow countrymen to possibly refrain from traveling to Italy and Turkey. The Ministry of Healthcare and the Government are taking all necessary and affordable measures, but the most important conclusion of our specialists and today’s discussion is that individual responsibility is the most reliable way to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

First of all, I once again urge our compatriots who do not have any symptoms to strictly follow the recommendations of the Ministry of Healthcare, to observe personal hygiene rules, while we urge those who have symptoms not to self-medicate, but to contact to health facilities.

The number of alarm signals has increased in recent days. Fortunately, none of these signals has been confirmed as coronavirus disease. We will continue our work. Today, the Task Force will prepare a government decision, and the Cabinet will adopt it at a remote meeting so that it could take effect as early as tomorrow.

You may know that a decision has been made to introduce week-long holidays in educational institutions, that is, the spring vacation season has been anticipated; we will see what the situation is by late this week, and we will make decisions as necessary.

I know that a question will arise about why we are not closing communication in other areas. First of all, it is impossible to close all directions, because it means complete isolation.

We are currently assessing risk zones and are conducting more intensive work in the most risky areas. Unfortunately, coronavirus is practically widespread everywhere, and in the modern world there are not only direct, but also indirect means of communication.

Unfortunately, we must admit that this does not guarantee the prevention of further spread, but we make the process as manageable as possible so that we can control the situation as much as possible.

Measures will be strengthened, including those related to cargo transportation. Today, the State Revenue Committee and the Ministry of Economy will work together; in all likelihood, some exceptions will again be made for certain goods as necessary. And we should also ask our citizens to avoid traveling to the Islamic Republic of Iran for cargo and the import of goods from there. Now in the decision of the government we will introduce such regulation so that this happens.

Dear compatriots, we also discussed the market situation. Although this seems to be a short-term phenomenon, you don’t need to panicky shop in stores.

True, we have a shortage of certain basic necessities, in particular, the most important of them are masks, but this problem exists not only in our country, but throughout the world.

Now we even got information that there are enterprises, companies that are ready to import masks, but since prices have risen all over the world, they fear that they will be accused of speculative pricing inside the country.

However, the State Commission for Protection of Economic Competition is working with them, and we must work to ensure that the market has an objective price for masks, but we must also understand that prices have risen worldwide, so we expect some increase in the market price when importing new batches.

Fortunately, we have antiseptic production in Armenia. This boom was recorded on Saturday and Sunday and it was just unexpected for our producers. They assured that in the coming days full production will be launched and the market demand will be satisfied.

The main danger of the international and Armenian community - and today there are dozens of such headlines in the international press - is the panic over the coronavirus. That is, the problem is not in the coronavirus, but in the panic that occurs in people when they hear this word.

Now students are on vacation, in this regard, we note that it would be a vacation a week later or earlier, this does not change anything. And if each of us takes responsibility for our own behavior, it means that the Republic of Armenia should continue to live its normal life, paying more attention to personal discipline.

And for us, frankly, this is a very good reason to abandon some not very pleasant habits, and as the Minister of Health called, we can abandon the practice of kissing each other during the greeting.

t the coronavirus with humor is encouraging. Of course, humor is humor, but, on the other hand, it should not be taken lightly. Yes, this is a disease, this is a dangerous disease, like many other dangerous diseases from which we suffer every year, every month, every day, every week, and let's say that we are not talking about it, because it has become commonplace, and from ordinary flu, we have about 10 deaths per year, this is an average figure.

And therefore, our main task is as follows: in any case, there should be no panic, panic shopping, panic moving, panic statements, panic calls in Armenia. To do this, the government should guarantee that there is no such panic, and the guarantee of this is that we will not hide any information from the citizens of the Republic of Armenia. It's the most important.

Once again, we note that our citizens should only trust the information disseminated by the Government and other official bodies. There is no other source about the Coronavirus except the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the Ministry of Health and other official bodies.

Consequently, we are living a normal life and working on the development agenda of our country. By the way, rumors about panic in Tsakhkadzor were exaggerated. Yesterday, as I promised, our family and I, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports and other officials spent the evening and night in Tsakhkadzor. There are tourists in Tsakhkadzor, many tourists and I went to several restaurants, cafes and walked around the city.

So, let's really relate to the situation calmly, balancedly, of course, be vigilant, attentive, understanding that the disease is dangerous, but manageable, and we hope that the situation will not worsen. Once again I want to say that today we have 9 suspicious cases, and we need to conduct testing.

Even if one or two of these 9 cases are confirmed, there is no need to make apocalyptic conclusions, because now we have a patient who is de jure sick, but de facto not very sick.

We hope that at least de facto we will complete this process in this very mood. No restrictions are currently needed, people can easily go to the cinema, go to the theater, celebrate birthdays, etc., but at the same time they need to wash their hands more often and thoroughly, be more attentive, and avoid the penetration of viruses or bacteria into the outside world is sneezing, and the rest is controllable.”

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