Armenian Health Minister Voices Doubts about Georgian COVID Data

Armenian Minister of Health Arsen Torosyan on Friday voiced his doubts about the coronavirus data of Georgia. When comparing the Georgian and Armenian healthcare and anti-epidemiological systems, Torosyan said Georgia’s are significantly different, “and not in a good way”, according to the news website Arminfo.  

"Our anti-epidemiological system is stronger, and this is a fact," he said, going on to express hope that, in addition to Georgia, other neighboring countries - Russia and Iran, will be able to strengthen their anti-epidemiological systems, which is important for Armenia, taking into account the flow of citizens entering these territories from these countries.

During the on-line discussions initiated by the Public Council, Torosyan asked several questions about the methodology Georgia uses to record the date of the COVID-19 infected patients, noting that not many countries can “compare with Armenia on the principle of transparency of information on coronavirus.”

“Firstly, have PCR tests been used in all testing cases in Georgia, or are we talking about quick tests, which are practically not used in Armenia due to their low level of accuracy? Secondly, are citizens with mild ARVI symptoms tested for coronavirus? Thirdly, are coronavirus statistics included for people who have died from pneumonia while having diagnosed COVID-19? The Minister recalled that in Armenia, such cases of fatal outcomes are included in the statistics, and separate statistics are also conducted for patients with COVID-19 who have died from other diseases,” writes Arminfo.  

In an effort to prove his point, Torosyan offered some information for consideration: “when we test drivers driving from Georgia to Armenia, in many cases coronavirus is diagnosed. So, can it be considered that in Georgia there are really 1-2 cases of coronavirus detected a day, or in reality that not all cases of COVID-19 are detected and included in the statistics?”

The Armenian Minister also expressed doubt about whether or not Georgia, as well as other countries, will be able to keep the infection rates this low after it reopens its borders for tourists.

5928 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Armenia, 2874 people have recovered and 74 have died. At time of writing, 2952 patients are receiving actual treatment. In Georgia, 723 cases of COVID-19 have been registered, 495 have recovered, and 12 have died, and 209 patients are undergoing treatment.

Amiran Gamkrelidze, Director General of the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) responded to the statement of the Minister of Health of Armenia. 

In his words, it is not yet confirmed that such a statement was actually made. 

"I saw this information, however, it is not yet confirmed that he actually made such a statement. I know Mr. Arsen Torosyan personally, and I am a little surprised if this statement was made from this perspective. We are very close nations, neighbors, we have a long history, and I was a little surprised by this kind of "non-diplomatic" statement.

"I don't know what statistics he is relying on, he can see the data published by us, on our website, which is also available in English. On our website, we publish annual statistics, the dynamics of pneumonia. We have studied this. We do not have one of the most important characteristics of these pandemics - the high mortality rate. In other countries, such as Italy, etc., the mortality rate has been and still is high. We’ve been watching this for 3-4 years. Do we have a high mortality rate, including due to pneumonia? we do not have. Today, all patients with pneumonia in all hospitals in Georgia are being tested. All patients diagnosed with pneumonia, of course, are hospitalized and all of them are tested,” Gamkrelidze said.  

In his words, Torosyan also says that tests are being mixed in Georgia and that rapid tests are included in the data of tested people.

"No, Mr. Arsen, 48,290 tests conducted in the country are all PCR tests. We do not include in this a few thousand rapid tests used by the country, medical institutions. So I was surprised by this statement. I respect him, and other Armenian ministers. I am not sure whether he really made this statement or not,” Amiran Gamkrelidze added.

By Nini Dakhundaridze

Source: Arminfo

22 May 2020 23:04