YEREVAN — The Armenian government on July 13 moved to extend its state of emergency by another month due to the continuing coronavirus crisis in the country.

This is the fourth time Armenia, which has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the world, has extended the state of emergency that was first declared in March.

The state of emergency allows authorities to enforce the mandatory wearing of face masks in public areas as well as other antivirus measures.

At a special government meeting, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that Armenia’s current legislation leaves no other option for the government to continue to fight the outbreak in an effective way.

“The constitution of our country requires that emergency measures be taken in case of threats to public health, but besides the state of emergency we have no other effective instrument. Consequently, if we do not extend the state of emergency, our anti-epidemic package of measures will lose its force de jure. That’s why we simply have to extend it,” Pashinyan said.

However, Pashinyan said that his government plans legislative changes that will make it possible to continue to fight the virus beyond August 12 without again extending the state of emergency.

“We understand that the state of emergency cannot and should not be extended indefinitely, and we have decided that a legislative package will be drafted in the meantime to enable us to use these instruments [against the outbreak] not under an extended state of emergency, but under an emergency situation which will imply a much lighter regime in terms of restrictions and will focus on anti-epidemic measures,” Pashinyan said.

The extension of the state of emergency is scheduled to be discussed in parliament where Pashinian’s My Step bloc has a commanding majority.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Arsen Torosyan has reported slight improvement in COVID-19 situation in Armenia in the last few days.

He noted that 1,255 new cases were recorded Friday, Saturday , Sunday and total number of infections has reached 32, 151 people. 1,651 patients have recovered at the same time period for a total of 19,865.

The official COVID-19 death toll stands at 573 as of July 13. The figure does not include 183 deaths that the Armenian Health Ministry says have been caused by preexisting conditions.

Speaking about the workload of hospitals, the minister noted that the number of severe and extremely severe cases again remains high – 650 people, of which 43 are connected to ventilation devices..

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