Georgia to send doctors to Armenia to fight coronavirus

TBILISI (Reuters) – Georgia will send doctors to Armenia to help fight the coronavirus and will provide its neighbour with 10,000 diagnostic tests free of charge, Georgian officials said on Thursday.

Armenia, the worst-affected country in the South Caucasus region, had registered 14,669 coronavirus infections and 245 deaths as of Thursday, while Georgia reported 831 cases and 13 deaths.

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said the request was made by his Armenian counterpart, Nikol Pashinyan, who said on Monday he and his whole family had recovered from COVID-19, a week after announcing they had tested positive.

“Medical personnel will be dispatched as the first phase of such assistance,” Gakharia told a government meeting.

Georgia had also suggested that Armenia use the capabilities of the Richard Lugar Center for Public Health Research in the Georgian capital Tbilisi to test Armenian citizens for COVID-19, said Amiran Gamkrelidze, head of the Georgian National Center for Disease Control and Public Health.

He said Georgia was ready to provide Armenia with 10,000 coronavirus diagnostic tests free of charge.

Gamkrelidze said Georgia could perform 500 to 1,000 diagnostic tests of Armenian citizens in Georgia on a daily basis, or hand over 10,000 tests to Armenia.

Armenia extended a state of emergency for one month on May 14 after the number of new daily infections began rising at the end of April. Big gatherings are prohibited and masks are mandatory in public places.

Reporting by Margarita Antidze; editing by Giles Elgood