The Republic of Armenia and the Armenian nation are on the brink, if not already well into a state, of a humanitarian crisis. In the middle of a raging pandemic, we were forced to defend ourselves in a gruesome war. We have lost thousands of lives, much of Artsakh, and approximately 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes to Armenia. Armenia is now experiencing significant civil turmoil, which we all fear could take a turn for the worse.
A second wave of COVID has developed in Armenia. There are not enough beds, not enough supplies and not enough oxygen. We continue to lose 20 to 40 more lives to COVID every single day; as of last count, that number has surpassed 2500, and is projected to reach possibly hundreds if not thousands more.
In the midst of loss and death, at churches throughout Armenia, men, women, parents, children and grandparents pray and comfort each other. Soon, families and friends will muster their last strength to gather for the holidays. The funerals that are meant for grieving and the meals that are meant to bring loved ones together, will allow COVID to spread, and turn into a death sentence for many.
We the undersigned healthcare professionals from around the world, ask that the Church join us in helping to save Armenian lives. We ask that the Church use its broad influence and respected position to help change the course of the pandemic in Armenia and lessen the pain of the Armenian nation by requiring that mitigation measures be implemented in churches and all related services: the use of masks, social distancing, hand washing upon entry and elimination of any practices which require sharing of any cups, books or plates. We urge the Church to ask members of the clergy to reinforce these measures and encourage their members to use measures for safety at all times – not only during activities related to the church – including reducing the frequency of visits and group size for any and all types of gatherings, especially during the holidays.
At a time when every Armenian is using every last ounce of strength to help protect Dadivank, Tsitsernavank, Katarovank and others, we urge the Church to use its strength and unite with Armenian healthcare workers to help protect the people of Armenia.
This open letter, led by the Armenian Public Health Initiative, has been signed by 150 Armenian healthcare professionals from around the world.