COVID-19: Armenian PM, Family Test Positive; Russian Airlines Allowed To Fill Planes
By RFE/RL June 01, 2020
The global death toll from the coronavirus is more than 370,000 with more than 6.1 million infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.
Here's a roundup of COVID-19 developments in RFE/RL's broadcast regions.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and four members of his immediate family have tested positive for the coronavirus.
"Unfortunately, the results of our tests are positive," Pashinian said during a live Facebook broadcast on June 1.
Pashinian, who turned 45 on June 1, lives with his wife and three daughters. His son now serves in the army and does not live with the family.
Pashinian said he had had no symptoms but took the test, since he planned a trip to visit troops. He said his test results came back on May 31.
"After that, my whole family took tests and they also came back positive," he said, adding that none of his family members had coronavirus symptoms either.
Pashinian said that he had self-isolated at his residence and will continue to run the government from there.
He said it was likely he caught the virus during a government meeting "from a waiter, who brought us glasses of water."
"I saw that he was wearing no gloves and rebuked him, but I think they were working without gloves earlier. The waiter has also tested positive for coronavirus," Pashinian said.
The Armenian prime minister has been wearing a face mask during his daily coronavirus briefings ever since the government imposed a measure requiring people wear a mask in all public places.
Pashinian has urged Armenians to follow the rules, including the wearing of masks, social distancing, frequent handwashing, and other hygiene measures.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Armenia in March, the South Caucasus country has identified over 9,400 cases of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, with 139 fatalities.
The daily number of infections continues to be high, with 210 new cases reported on June 1 over the previous 24 hours in the country of 3 million.
Russian airlines are now allowed to fill planes to capacity after social-distancing measures to slow the coronavirus spread were eased.
Russia's state agency for consumer protection, Rospotrebnadzor, told the daily Kommersant on June 1 that the restriction introduced on May 18 that allowed planes to fly only at a maximum of half-capacity had been dropped by the state air transport agency, Rosaviatsia, as part of measures on the gradual lifting the COVID-19 restrictions.
Airlines complained about lost revenue after the regulation, which forced them to place passengers in planes in a checkerboard pattern that left half of the seats empty, was introduced.
After these and other restrictions were imposed over the pandemic, the number of air passengers in Russia dropped sharply, leading to heavy financial losses.
Tickets for July are now being offered at more expensive prices as airlines attempt to make up for lost revenue.
Meanwhile, shopping malls, parks, and small businesses such as laundry services reopened in Moscow on June 1 as the Russian capital becomes the latest major city to ease coronavirus restrictions after two months of lockdown.
The relaxation comes as the number of cases worldwide surpassed more than 6.1 million.
The easing of restrictions in Moscow comes as Russian health authorities said that 9,035 new coronavirus cases, including 162 deaths, were registered across the country in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases 414,878, including 4,855 deaths.
People are now able to leave their homes for brief trips to shop, walk dogs, or travel to essential jobs with a permit, and will be able to jog or exercise between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. but must wear masks, according to the new rules.
Moscow authorities, however, say restaurants, cafes, and cinemas will remain closed for now, and no mass gatherings will be allowed through June 14, when a citywide quarantine expires.
Like many other cities and countries in the world, Moscow started its lockdown in March.
While Muscovites welcomed the opportunity to leave their homes, many have ridiculed the new rules on social media, pointing to the more than 9,000 new infections recorded on May 31.
Iran, one of the worst-hit countries at the outset of the pandemic, could face a second, stronger wave of infections if people ignore guidance and social-distancing rules, Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on June 1.
Iran started easing its lockdown in April after a drop in deaths, but last month saw an uptick in the rate of reported infections -- an acceleration the government put down to increased testing.
"The outbreak is not over yet and at any moment it may come back stronger than before," Namaki told a news conference broadcast on state TV.
"If our people fail to respect the health protocols...we must prepare ourselves for the worst situation."
Iran has reported a total of 154,445 infections as of June 1, an increase of almost 3,000 from the previous day, and 81 new deaths, taking the toll to 7,878.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Armenian and Russian services, Kommersant, Reuters, Interfax, AFP, and dpa
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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