YEREVAN — The government announced on Wednesday that it will extend a state of emergency by another month next week to continue containing the spread of the coronavirus in Armenia.
Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan said the government will at the same time fully or partly lift its ban on public gatherings and make it easier for foreign nationals to enter the country. He also reaffirmed its plans to reopen all schools and universities in time for the start of the new academic year.
“We have already devised various models of how to reopen public education institutions depending on the epidemiological situation,” Avinyan told a joint news briefing with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. “We will present a final program by August 10.”
“Such program-based models have also been devised for other spheres,” he added in an apparent reference to libraries, museums and theaters which were also shut down in March.
The decision to again prolong the state of emergency comes despite a major decrease in coronavirus infections reported by the health authorities for the last two weeks. Pashinyan said that that the epidemiological situation in Armenia is improving but remains “serious.”
Pashinyan said he is worried that the falling daily number of new cases may be making Armenians more complacent about COVID-19. The authorities should therefore continue strictly enforcing social distancing and other rules aimed at containing the epidemic, he said.
The Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday that 288 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past day, down from an average of 550-600 cases a day registered in the first half of July.
It also reported only two more deaths caused by COVID-19. They raised the official death toll to 770. The figure does not include the deaths of 228 other Armenians infected with the virus. The health authorities say that they were primarily caused by other, pre-existing diseases.
The daily number of officially registered fatalities averaged approximately 15 from July 6 through July 24.
The latest government data also shows that the daily number of people recovering from COVID-19 continued to surpass that of new infections on Tuesday, cutting the number of active coronavirus cases to 7,738. The vast majority of the infected citizens remain self-isolated at home.