LOS ANGELES - Coronavirus cases are on the rise all over the world. The combination of war and a global pandemic is making the situation in Armenia much worse as the war rages on with Azerbaijan. A Los Angeles doctor who flew to Armenia to help with the crisis details his experience.
Dr. George Melikian is an infectious disease doctor who flew to Armenia in October to help and FOX 11 checked in with Dr. Melikian recently to get an update on the situation there.
With the resolve to be of service and do good, Dr. Melikian left the comforts of his San Fernando home to help the crisis unfolding in Armenia. He said the attacks by Azerbaijan on Artsakh have injured hundreds of civilians.
In addition, Drones strikes have killed more than a thousand Armenian soldiers. Missiles are destroying hospitals, schools and thousands of homes, families are sheltering in basements and underground bunkers, and COVID infections continue to spike.
"It is the perfect storm. This synergy between war and infectious diseases. The Covid hospitals are full, they're full beyond capacity. A lot of the patients coming from Karabakh are COVID positive, a lot of it has to do with them bunkering in together, and they're infecting each other," Dr. Melikian explained.
On the front lines, the invisible coronavirus becomes secondary.
But in Yerevan, with the healthcare system is strained and the coronavirus is very much on people's minds. And this is where the two worlds are colliding.
"We have patients who are sleeping in the waiting room, they don't have any ventilators available, part of it is because some of them have been taken up by soldiers who are wounded, there is a tremendous shortage,” said Dr. Melikian.
He added he is rotating through four hospitals, attending to COVID patients and to the wounded. He said he has only seen two soldiers with bullet wounds, the rest are shrapnel wounds, which is an indicator of how this war is being fought.
"Shrapnel wounds are secondary to bombs and rockets. Things that are thrown from a distance, not bullets where somebody is firing at a close distance. I have only seen two patients who have had bullet wounds, the rest have had rocket, mortar wound, grenade wounds," he said.
He added that he is humbled by the braveness of the young Armenian soldiers.
"I can tell you that often, the first thing they'll say when they wake up is 'when can I go back to the front?'" said Dr. Melikian.
Speaking of going back, Dr. Melikian confessed just how much he is missing his family.
"Counting the seconds to see my daughter and my wife,” said Dr. Melikian.
But he said this experience has reminded him of the unwavering strength of the Armenian spirit.
"You walk in the streets and people are selling food for charity. It is a very sad but hopeful environment. It's very warm and reassuring to see what people are doing here. I have friends here who have been out of work and in debt because of COVID but have taken on two families from Artsakh and are supporting them. It's just absolutely amazing. The unity, the love, the caring, people are really coming together,” said Dr. Melikian.