“Every life is priceless” – Armenian PM addresses nation on COVID-19
YEREVAN, MARCH 24, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan addressed the nation today, presenting the current situation caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the new restrictions on citizens aimed at preventing the spread of the disease, as well as the options to support the business, his Office told Armenpress.
Armenpress presents the full text of the PM’s address.
Proud citizens of the Republic of Armenia,
Like all mankind, Armenia and the Armenian people are facing a global challenge today.
According to the World Health Organization, the novel coronavirus epidemic is not only spreading across the globe, but it is gaining momentum. There are more than 350,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, and more than 16,000 people have died of infection.
What do we know about coronavirus? It is an infection that passes quickly from person to person through the air, hits the human respiratory system, manifests as dry and prolonged cough, heavy breathing, attended by fever, and eventually leads to grave cases of pneumonia.
In the meantime, international experience has shown that a coronavirus-infected patient may have no symptoms at all. That is, a person may be infected without suffering from respiratory problems or fever. In such cases, it is very likely that a person may even be unaware that he or she is infected and will be cured without any intervention, and therefore the disease will not pose any danger to him.
The problem is, however, that during this time they can infect many friends, relatives, family members. For many of them, the disease will not pose a serious risk either. World experience has shown that the virus is fairly safe for children, young people, and its main victims are those over the age of 70, as well as those with chronic pathologies.
And therefore, the main task is to protect our unhealthy compatriots, our parents, grandparents, and do everything to prevent them from contracting infection.
Of course, the fact of infection itself is not a verdict. Over 100,000 people have been successfully treated for coronavirus worldwide, including people over 70, even a 95-year-old patient has been treated, but every life is priceless and we must do everything to avoid deaths.
That is exactly what our efforts sought from the very outset. We stopped the academic process in schools and other educational institutions not only to protect children from infection but also to prevent its proliferation. This may lead to more stringent restrictions in the future. And our task is not only to prevent the spread of the infection, but also to protect our most vulnerable groups and ease the health system’s too heavy burden.
We have the following statistics as of 18:00 today: 249 confirmed coronavirus cases. Most of the patients are hospitalized at Yerevan’s Nork Infectious Disease Hospital; others are being treated at other medical facilities.
Some of them do not even have a fever at this point of time, which gives us hope that many will be healed even without medical intervention and that right now the main point of their staying in hospital is not to infect other citizens.
There are 11 people over the age of 65 and 5 people over the age of 70 among our infected compatriots. Fortunately, we do not have over 80 patients at this time.
We have 30 patients with pneumonia, 5 of them are kept at intensive care wards, and unfortunately one of them, our 77-year-old compatriot, is in critical condition. Doctors say the health condition of 4 patients is grave.
We have 868 isolated citizens, more than 2419 citizens have self-insulated at home, and I hope they will strictly observe the isolation rules.
As regards the geographical coverage, we have coronavirus cases in Yerevan, and in Armavir, Ararat, Aragatsotn, Kotayk, Syunik, Shirak and Lori marzes.
We know the origin of most of these cases. As already stated, we have had three developing branches for the spread of the coronavirus – our compatriots coming from Iran, our compatriots from Echmiadzin and compatriots from the Yerevan clothing factory.
Our efforts stopped the further development of said Iran and Echmiadzin branches, and we are now trying to prevent the further development of the Yerevan branch.
However, the findings of the March 23 diagnostics show that the Yerevan branch may have been out of control as we recorded new cases at other workshops in Yerevan and Charentsavan, which led us to conclude that it would take a week or more of strict restrictions.
Accordingly, new restrictions shall be in place for at least a week from now, which means that thousands of businesses will see their operations suspended; the activities of vital entities will only be allowed during this time. Our fellow citizens taking to the streets will have to clearly explain where they are going and those explanations should fit into the logic of people’s vital movements. Citizens will have to carry passports or identity cards when leaving home. The Commandant will enforce a mandatory requirement for the citizen to complete a displacement form.
The Commandant’s Office has already published the list of emergency lifeline activities, and I see no need to refer to it. Just to mention that all restaurants and cafes shall be closed for at least a week from today; shops, pharmacies and banks will work, and, of course, citizens will have the opportunity to go shopping, visit pharmacies and banks, but I would like to ask you all to make the most of online services: online shopping, online payments and online banking.
I realize that many of you have no experience of using such services, but this is a great opportunity to learn and get used to these modern technological utilities, especially as these services will definitely make your life more comfortable not only during this epidemic, but also afterwards.
I would like to apologize for these restrictions and inconveniences. I hope you all understand that this is being done to ensure your own safety, and that of our parents and grandparents.
I should also note that the pensioners who used to get their pensions in cash will not need to go to the post offices this month and will receive the pension at their place of residence from Haypost’s mobile groups.
It is also stipulated that all shops, pharmacies, and banks will only serve citizens over 65 from 10 am to 12 am. I urge all other citizens not to shop in those hours.
It is my call and request to all of you to take this situation, threats, restrictions, and leave your home only when you have a vital need, having a passport or ID card, not to gather in more than two groups, even in yards, chat rooms or neighborhoods. And in general, strictly follow all the Commandant’s instructions. Please abide by the anti-epidemic rules while staying at home and follow the instructions of the Ministry of Healthcare.
The International Monetary Fund has already stated that 2020 will be a year of recession for the global economy. According to some estimates, the recession will be even worse than the one we faced during the economic crisis of 2008-2009. The forecast is a little bit better for Armenia, but we will obviously lose the growth rate that we achieved in 2019 owing to joint work. But as I have said in the past, we perceive this situation not as a tragedy but as a new opportunity to improve Armenia’s position in the global economy and implement our economic revolution agenda more effectively and at a faster pace.
Global GDP is expected to suffer a USD 3 trillion drop, which means that there will be so much spare room left on the global marketplace. And we have to tell ourselves that at least a USD 30 billion-worth vacated niche should be occupied by Armenia, and this problem should be resolved within the next five years. This means that we have to set a task to take 1% of this gap in the global market and I believe we can do that.
Today, the world is fascinated by the talent of Armenian businessmen, thanks to which Armenia did not have any shortage of food and consumer goods in the most critical times of the coronavirus. And this is due to the talent of our hard-working people.
I would like to state that the Government has developed clear-cut steps to support the competitive and promising part of our business and the first packages to that effect shall be passed at the next Cabinet meeting.
A total of 150 billion AMD will be provided, not actually for resisting the crisis, but for preparing our victories in the post-crisis period. During the next Cabinet meeting we will adopt a large-scale program to support the farming sector. As promised, interest rates on all types of newly issued agricultural loans will be paid by the Government, as well as privileged conditions will be created for all newly formed agricultural cooperatives.
By the way, farming activities should not be suspended during these days, and I call on all our farmers to actively engage in the agricultural campaign, because the Commandant’s Office has declared that farming activities are a matter of primary necessity.
I would also like to state that a special package will be adopted at the forthcoming Cabinet meeting to possibly deal with any liquidity-related bottlenecks and provide businesses with badly needed liquidity, including job placement and payroll.
The Government continues to work on a social assistance package under which we will provide some 25 billion drams in a more targeted and efficient way, and our work will continue in all of these areas. We will introduce new ideas, packages and programs to support working people in this critical situation. This is out of question.
But I would like to draw everyone's attention to another fact and another circumstance. These times of staying home, secluded, and self-isolating are extremely convenient for reading, thinking, planning our dreamed future, and being overwhelmed with determination to bring that future to life.
This is the best time for self-reflection, to break free from bad habits, because at such moments we realize how vulnerable we are, and at such critical moments, what the challenges of an unhealthy lifestyle are: unhealthy diet, sedentary life, overweight, smoking, smoking.
I urge you to use this time to quit smoking, get rid of excess weight, and adopt a light food culture.
I urge you to use this opportunity to isolate yourself in the morning for running or cycling or gymnastics, of course keeping this at least 10 meters social distance and excluding team sports for at least the next week. The Commandant has determined such an opportunity by his decision.
I call on you to use this period to change our attitude towards our homeland, our compatriots for the better, and to really try to treat our homeland as a home, as a people, as a family, our compatriots as family members.
I urge you to read as much as possible, fill in your own knowledge, and think, think about the future and what each of us has to do to make that future ours. each of us as individuals and we as a people and a state should seek, not the compassion and compassion of others, but respect and reverence, admiration and love; Before our ancestors and future generations, and even at the most critical moment, we must not forget that we are descended from the patriarch Hayk, and our name is Armenian.
And as the classic said: Babylon was our rival, but see it has gone by like an evil mist.
The coronavirus, too, will disappear like an evil mist, and we will see in the future that we are building in our collective mind.
This is especially true for our doctors, health care workers who are fighting a self-defeating infection. I am thanking our health workers, the Police, the National Security Service, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, other state agencies, the private sector, as well as all those volunteers who came to support our doctors and uphold the fight against the epidemic.
And, of course, a special vote of thanks to our soldiers, officers and generals who are watching over Homeland’s security in these turbulent times.
And finally, I wish to conclude my statement with good news. Already 4 out of 4 coronavirus patients have been discharged from hospital and 37 are back home from isolation.
We will defeat the coronavirus step by step.
I wish robust health to all our infected citizens. I wish patience to all our isolated and self-isolated citizens. Rest assured, we will defy this evil.
Long live freedom!
Long live the Republic of Armenia!
Long live us and our children who live and will live in a free and happy Armenia!