YEREVAN — Armenia has reported 544 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 18,033. The results of 1,500 tests have been negative.

According to the data of the National Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 243 patients have recovered, bringing the total to 6,814. Nine patients have died in the past 24 hours. The death toll has reached 302, another 99 patients with coronavirus have died because of other diseases. The number of active cases is 10,818.

According to the Ministry of Health, Armenia still has enough hospital beds to treat increased numbers of coronavirus patients. “We have no problems with regard to hospitalization at the moment,” the ministry spokeswoman, Alina Nikoghosyan, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Wednesday. “The available hospital beds are still sufficient.”

Nikoghosyan said at the same time that 176 infected people in need of urgent treatment waited to be hospitalized as of Wednesday morning. But she stressed that 140 of them were kept in medical “triage centers” in preparation for their hospitalization.

“So the [hospitalization] process is going on and perhaps most of them have already been hospitalized,” added the official.

The coronavirus crisis is putting a growing strain on Armenia’s underfunded healthcare system, forcing the health authorities to ramp up capacity. The authorities pledged last week to make 350 new hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients. Armenian hospitals fighting the epidemic had a total of over 2,000 beds at that point.

Nikoghosyan put the current number of active cases at 10,818. The vast majority of these infected people are confined at home and monitored by primary healthcare workers.

Health Minister Arsen Torosyan said, meanwhile, that despite the increased daily numbers of new infections the disease has spread in the last 10 days more slowly than was expected by the health authorities. In a Facebook post, he said this is the result of more Armenians practicing social distancing, wearing face masks and taking other precautions recommended by the authorities.

Torosyan also cautioned: “The situation remains very tense and we all need to make additional and prolonged efforts to improve it.”

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