Coronavirus: Bulgaria’s Parliament votes one-month State of Emergency

Bulgaria’s National Assembly has voted a State of Emergency, proposed by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s government, to be in effect from March 13 to April 13, to deal with the Covid-19 new coronavirus crisis.

The vote was approved unanimously after statements of support from all parliamentary groups.

The item was added to Parliament’s agenda on Friday following the proposal by the Cabinet at a late-night emergency session.

The sitting of Parliament opened with a briefing by Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski, chief of the crisis staff against Covid-19.

He said that at the moment, following more than 1400 tests of samples, there were 23 confirmed cases of new coronavirus in Bulgaria. One person had died.

Newly-confirmed cases were rising throughout the Balkans. Worldwide, there were 134 000 cases as of 6am on March 13. A total of 4900 people had died. The World Health Organization had declared a pandemic.

Drastic measures were being taken worldwide, Mutafchiyski said. In Israel, the prison sentence for violating quarantine is seven years. In Greece, it is two years and in Russia, three years.

Verbal messages were ineffective and controls need to be in place, he said.

When facing a situation similar to that in Italy, it should be possible to mobilise all medical personnel, Mutafchiyski said.

Solutions to the problem of protective clothing had been found. Production already was underway. There were problems with sufficient breathing apparatuses. Ways were being sought to get them supplied quickly.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov complained that many people were not complying with the imposed quarantine measures and the Interior Ministry should find them and put them into mandatory detention.

“We want this state of emergency for a month. We need it because of those who violate the ban,” Borissov said.

Closing borders will literally block economic life, our economies are open, connected. Therefore, we will propose measures to prevent food supplies from becoming a problem.

Amendments to the Budget Act were possible, he said.

Kornelia Ninova, leader of the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, said that at a meeting of presiding officers and parliamentary group leaders earlier on Friday morning, the government had wanted the State of Emergency to be open-ended. This had been amended to a period of one month at the proposal of the opposition, she said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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