Construction underway at Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital in Yerevan

YEREVAN — Armenia is looking to expand its capacity to place patients in hospitals amid a state of emergency declared over an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.

Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said on Wednesday that Yerevan’s specialized hospital for infectious diseases will get dozens of additional wards by the end of the week.

“Construction of the modular reception hall at Nork Infectious Diseases Hospital is in full swing. We are going to have 40 new wards in 3-4 days,” the minister announced in a Facebook post.

Since the number of coronavirus cases in Armenia began to increase rapidly late last week, the Nork hospital started to treat only patients having the new coronavirus infection or suffering from COVID-19, a potentially deadly disease caused by it.

According to the official data released on March 18, the number of people infected with coronavirus in Armenia has reached 102. Officials say Armenia’s first COVID-19 patient identified on March 1 has recovered.

In a live broadcast on Facebook late on Tuesday Minister Torosyan said that about 600 people suspected of having had contacts with coronavirus patients are currently under quarantine. He said the government has the capacity of placing several hundred more people under quarantine, but warned that beyond that self-quarantines would be required.

On March 16, the Armenian government declared a 30-day state of emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. A set of limitations have been introduced, including a ban on public gatherings and the possibility of restricting people’s travel due to epidemiological conditions.

Land border crossings with Iran and Georgia remain open only for cargo transportation. Citizens of 16 countries most affected by the coronavirus, including China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, Italy and some other European countries have been banned from entering Armenia. The Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged Armenian citizens to refrain from traveling to foreign countries. Under the terms of Armenia’s state-of-emergency rule, Armenian citizens can leave the country by plane, but will have to be placed under 14-day quarantine upon return.

The Armenian Apostolic Church, which began to conduct all liturgies behind closed doors and limited other services following the declaration of the state of emergency in Armenia, has called for a “national day of prayer” over the coronavirus pandemic on March 18.

“We invite everyone to join together in private prayer – from wherever they are located at the time – to ask the Lord to guide the world and our people to overcome this tribulation in a spirit of unity and mutual support,” His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, said in his appeal earlier this week.

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