Following the confirmation of four cases of new coronavirus in Bulgaria, the country’s government ordered a ban on all indoor cultural events, including closing theatres and cinemas.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet met in emergency session on the morning of March 8 to decide on measures recommended by the national crisis staff against new coronavirus.
The ban on cultural events nationwide went further than the crisis staff’s recommendation, which was to impose the ban only in the two towns, Pleven and Gabrovo, where the cases had been confirmed.
Culture Minister Boil Banov proposed the nationwide ban, saying that “400 to 500 people in closed rooms for two to three hours are at high risk”.
First and second league football matches will be played without the public, as will indoor sports events.
The Cabinet voted to ban the export of surgical masks and other protective equipment.
Borissov ordered the Interior Ministry and State Agency for National Security to act against speculation in such items.
He rejected a recommendation to close cities where coronavirus cases were confirmed.
Health Minister Kiril Ananiev was ordered to go to Pleven and Gabrovo to inspect the situation in the two towns. Borissov ordered all members of his Cabinet to be available to him 24 hours a day and not to go to their ministries.
Borissov underlined the need for Bulgarians to exercise personal discipline and responsible behaviour and not to panic.
He spoke strongly against panic-buying and hoarding, saying that Bulgaria’s large retail chains had sufficient stocks.
There were sufficient coronavirus test kits, he said. The Cabinet voted to make available to the Ministry of Health whatever funding it needed for masks and other equipment, and to provide extra beds.
Borissov said that at 2pm on March 7, he would meet representatives of large companies involved in the production of medical supplies.
Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski, head of the crisis staff against coronavirus, said that all people who had been in close contact with the patients with confirmed cases were being sought as a priority, following which all those in second-line contact would be sought.
Hospitals where there were confirmed cases are quarantined and may admit only cases of extreme emergency such as heart attacks and strokes.
In areas with confirmed cases, all school extra-curricular activities such as excursions are banned.
The European Commission’s page on coronavirus response.
The World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe’s page on the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s page with updates and factfiles on new coronavirus.
(Screenshot of Mutafchiyski and Borissov: BNT)