Armenia may face a new lockdown, prime minister says

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan hold a joint news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin

YEREVAN (Reuters) - Armenia may have to impose a new total lockdown if people do not follow hygiene rules, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Tuesday after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases topped 10,000.

Pashinyan, who tested positive along with other members of his family on Monday, warned that a new lockdown could cause a severe economic crisis.

"Either the rules are not followed and we go to complete restrictions accompanied by a curfew, subjecting the country to new social and economic shocks, or we cooperate and take control of the situation and achieve quick results," Pashinyan said during a Facebook live video.

"We have 1-3 days to change this situation," he added.

The ex-Soviet country on May 14 extended a state of emergency for one month after the number of new daily infections began rising at the end of April.

Despite the extension, pre-schools, shopping centres and gyms reopened and public transport resumed. Masks however remain mandatory in public spaces.

The government opened many sectors of the economy in early May to allow people to return to work in the face of financial hardship.

Armenia, a nation of 3 million people, registered a record 517 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 10,009, the highest in the South Caucasus region. The number of deaths rose to 158.


(Reporting by Nvard Hovhannisyan; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Giles Elgood)