Economy minister under fire from health authorities over 'oxygen' remarks regarding COVID measures
YEREVAN, JANUARY 8, ARMENPRESS. The Ministry of Healthcare dismissed the Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan’s concerns over a potential extension of the “quarantine” regime – a precautionary nationwide regime introduced by the government in 2020 as a replacement for the COVID-19-related state of emergency.
The “quarantine” regime enables the government to continue requiring citizens to wear face masks in public areas, enforce other safety rules and measures whenever necessary and demand COVID-19 tests at border crossing points.
The Ministry of Healthcare proposed the Cabinet to extend the regime for another 6 months from January 11. The proposal is yet to be debated and approved.
Economy Minister Kerobyan said in an interview that the decision hasn’t been discussed with his ministry and that they’d agree with it only in the event of strongest arguments. “But the fact is that now the economy need oxygen above all, and we must do everything for the economy to work maximally open,” Kerobyan had said.
But now the Healthcare Ministry spokesperson Alina Nikoghosyan has announced that the proposed extension of the quarantine regime won’t anyhow restrict or ban any types of businesses.
“First of all I’d like to note that the activities of different organizations, including educational ones, rendering of services, closed institutions (for example psychiatric institutions) are carried out with adherence to epidemiological safety rules and other similar regulations,” Nikoghosyan said.
She said that if the quarantine regime is not extended, the authorities won’t be able to carry out the preventative measures any longer. “This decision doesn’t envisage any ban on any type of economic activity, it rather envisages requirements which enable to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus disease in those organizations,” Nikoghosyan said.
Nikoghosyan said the authorities should not stop the preventive measures in the light of the new strains of the COVID-19 emerging globally, the tense epidemiological situation in many countries and the unavailability of a mass vaccination yet.
Nikoghosyan fired back at Kerobyan’s “oxygen” remarks, saying: “Minister Vahan Kerobyan also mentioned that right now the economy needs oxygen above all. During the last months, coronavirus patients also needed oxygen above all, which was ensured as the efforts of the ministry of healthcare. We are hopeful that the ministry of economy will in turn spare no effort for ensuring oxygen for the economy, without increasing the number of patients, as well as without disrupting the supply of oxygen needed for treating them.”
She added that the healthcare ministry is ready to discuss any reasonable and substantiated proposal.
Editing and Translating by Stepan Kocharyan