It has been nearly a year since the first cases of coronavirus were registered in the South Caucasus. Although initially Armenia was among the countries with the “worst” indicators in the world, and Georgia was ranked among the “safest” countries, within a year Georgia not only “caught up with” Armenia, but even “surpassed” it by some indicators.
This refers not only to the absolute number of recorded cases, but also to the number of infected people and deaths per unit of population.
The Fact Investigation Platform decided to study the Armenian-Georgian coronavirus history.
Thus, when the coronavirus reached the South Caucasus, Armenia was one of the first to suffer greatly from the infection. The declared state of emergency did not succeed in stopping the rapid spread of the infection. As of April 15, 1111 people were infected in the country, the number of deaths was 17. By mid-September, Armenia had already overcome the first wave of coronavirus with 46,119 infected people and 920 deaths. Meanwhile, as of April 15, there were 306 infected people in Georgia, and by September the number of infected people did not exceed 2000. On September 15, 2562 people were infected in the country, the number of deaths was 19.
The slow spread of the coronavirus in Georgia had raised suspicions among officials in Armenia, which led to a small ‘incident’ between the two countries. The small number of infected people allowed Georgia to intend to open the country to tourists in the summer. Soon, however, the dynamics of the spread of the infection in the country changed.
From October to February, the number of infected people increased from about 6-5 thousand to 266 thousand, an increase of about 40 times. In the same period, the number of infected people in Armenia increased about 3-5 times, from 50 thousand to about 168 thousand.
Indicators per unit population
One of the most accurate ways to compare the rate of spread of the infection and its effects on the country is to compare indicators per unit of population. Thus, the number of registered deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants in Armenia is 106, and the number of infected people is 3147. In Georgia, these indicators are, respectively, 90 and 7142.
As of February 15, the number of daily deaths per million inhabitants in Georgia was about twice as high as in Armenia. The graph below shows how the number of cases registered in Georgia after the end of November starts to exceed the indicators registered in Armenia.
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The table of daily cases shows almost the same picture. In this case, we notice how starting from the end of January the number of daily cases is decreasing in both countries. It is noteworthy that the number of tests has not significantly decreased in any of the countries.
230,000 tests per one million people (a total of 681,000 tests) have been performed in Armenia. In Georgia, testing is carried out with greater activity. In total, about 2.5 million tests were performed in the country, which is almost three times more than in Armenia. The number of tests per one million people in Georgia is 623,000.
Restrictions and vaccinations
After the introduction of a strict regime of restrictions and after some changes, Georgia decided to make gradual easing of restrictions only in February 2021, opening restaurants and resuming public transport in the second week of February. At the same time, the government has doubled the fine for not wearing a mask in public places from 20 GEL to 40 GEL. It should be noted that in January protests began in Georgia against the decision to extend the restrictions.
The state of emergency declared in Armenia was replaced by quarantine on September 11 last year. Prior to that and after that, the restrictions were gradually eased. Easing restrictions also continued following the decision on January 11 to extend the quarantine regime for six months. The decision was related to the intention not to cause more damage to the economy, which had already suffered great losses during last year.
Thus, the coronavirus pandemic in Armenia and Georgia started at the same time, but in contrast to the “stable” dynamics of Armenia, the first and the only peak registered in Georgia significantly changed the number of infected people in the country. And experts do not make projections on when the coronavirus pandemic will be over.