In Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, flu epidemic empties schools, fills shopping malls

Twenty-three out of Bulgaria’s 28 districts were subject to flu epidemic declarations as of January 29, with more than 1500 schools across the country closed – among them those in capital city Sofia.

Procedurally, schools are closed on the orders of regional education authorities, on the recommendation of regional health inspectorates, as among the measures to prevent the spread of influenza.

Other measures include restricting visitor access to hospitals, delaying routine medical check-ups, including of pregnant women, and issuing advice to people to not self-medicate, to avoid going to work if they are ill, and to avoid crowded places.

But in Sofia, that last-mentioned advice did not seem to apply, going by a report by Bulgarian National Television.

With pupils in the city at a loose end because of schools being closed up to February 5, they headed to shopping malls.

“Browsing the shops, meeting in cafes and sleeping late are among the favourite entertainment for pupils during the flu vacation,” BNT reported.

“We talk, we go around, we look at different clothes,” the report showed one saying.

Sofia municipality has responded to the declaration of the flu vacation for schools by arranging for the bus on line 66, that runs to Vitosha Mountain, to be available for the duration of the vacation daily from 8am to 4.30pm.

In Sofia – as no doubt elsewhere among the many other districts where pupils had time off – some parents were arranging activities such as skiing lessons for their children, as one mother put it: “So she doesn’t spend 10 days staring at her phone”.

The Military Medical Academy in Sofia is offering free examinations and consultations for people who suspect that they have the flu. Patients may go straight to the clinic without consulting a GP first. The clinic is available from 9am to 2pm.

Health Minister Kiril Ananiev said that the flu epidemic in Bulgaria was expected to peak this week.

Education Minister Krassimir Valchev has confirmed that the lost school hours will not be made up at the expense of weekends or regular holidays.

(Photo: GTC Group)



The Sofia Globe staff

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