1. Preventing transmission
The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.
1.1 Health communication
Risk communication activities began in January. Health advice on hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and social distancing is being communicated to the public very intensively through all media. There are dedicated spokespersons to convey messages, and the messages are consistent and evidence-based. New posters and videos are constantly being developed/adapted based on WHO advice and guidance and then disseminated in the public. High level officials including Prime Minister-Head of the State, Commandant and Minister of Health frequently addressing the public live through Facebook presenting statistics, health measures and public advice. The communication is very transparent and timely. A hotline ensures the collection of feedback from the public. Since the State of Emergency in Armenia was declared on 16 March, communication is carried out through daily press conferences of the Armenian Unified InfoCenter. When the State of Emergency was declared, reporting restrictions were put in place for COVID-19 news, but these were lifted on 13 April. The media will be monitored to ensure there is no increase and the dissemination of false information.In May and June, many conspiracy theories were circulating on social media and false information is a cause for concern. Thus far, the authorities have struggled to convince citizens to follow the most basic and effective safety rules.
Daily information on the number of tests conducted, number of new positive cases, cumulative positive cases, number of recovered and deaths is published every day on moh.am and ncdc.am websites. In addition health systems data on the number of dedicated health facilities, laboratories, beds, ICU beds and ventilators is communicated to the public through Facebook live addresses and press conferences by the Minister of Health (Arsen Torosyan). On 18 June, the Prime Minister’s office and about 1500 Armenian Red Cross volunteers started a countrywide public awareness campaign. The volunteers are handing out anti-pandemic information leaflets and also face masks when necessary.
Adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) has substantially decreased in the population, it is visible that fewer people are wearing masks, maintaining social distancing even in places with high risks, such as public transport. The Ministry of Health is actively communicating the need to comply to NPIs to reduce the burden of health system and to allow management of trauma and other issues relevant to the armed conflict.