YEREVAN — Armenia received early on Monday more than 187,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines donated by the government of Belgium. Containers filled with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab were unloaded at Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport from a cargo plane.

Another European Union member state, Lithuania, donated and delivered 27,500 doses of the same vaccine to Armenia last Friday.

In early August, France pledged to provide 200,000 vaccine doses to the Armenia.

Since the beginning of the mass Covid-19 vaccination in Armenia on April 13, some 303,325 coronavirus vaccine shots have been administered as of September 5, 2021, Armenia’s Ministry of Health said today. It said also that 195,290 people have received the first doze of the vaccine and 108,035 both.

The campaign has been seriously hampered by widespread vaccine hesitancy. In a bid to accelerate it, the government is resorting to administrative measures.

Health Minister Anahit Avanesyan on Monday reaffirmed her recent decision to require all public and private sector employees refusing vaccination to take coronavirus tests twice a month at their own expense. She said that entities and individuals not complying with the new requirement, effective from October 1, will risk fines.

In televised comments to the government’s press service, Avanesyan said health authorities will have enough vaccines to inoculate a much larger proportion of the population. The minister reaffirmed government plans to purchase this fall large quantities of vaccines manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and Novavax.

The authorities have until now received and used only vaccines developed by Russia, China as well as Oxford University and the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca.

Avanesian said a faster vaccine rollout is essential for countering a slow but steady increase in daily coronavirus cases, which began in June and is now threatening to overwhelm Armenia’s healthcare system.

She said the upward trend will likely continue in the weeks ahead given the start of a new academic year in the Armenian schools and universities. They were most recently reopened in December.

The Ministry of Health said on Monday morning that the number of coronavirus cases in Armenia has increased by 239 to a total of 245,264, 13 more people have died, bringing to 6,088 the total number of officially registered coronavirus-related deaths in the country. 9,617 people are currently being treated for COVID-19 in Armenia.

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