Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov has ruled out for now a formal order for people to stay at home as a measure against Covid-19.
Bulgarian National Radio reported Borissov as saying that such an order would require the creation of a “very powerful network” that would have to involve the army, social services, in some places firefighters too, so that people with no children and no one to help them could be supplied with medicines, food and water.
While a compulsory lockdown has not been ordered, Bulgaria’s authorities have been strongly encouraging people to work from home and practise social distancing, while schools and other educational institutions have been closed, along with restaurants, bars and other public places of entertainment.
Borissov’s statement was one of several developments and statements related to the coronavirus situation in Bulgaria on March 19.
Firefighting Service and Civil Defence chief Nikolai Nikolov, who is in charge of the special national logistics co-ordination centre, told a briefing that currently 38 000 special protective masks had been provided for medical personnel and 79 000 disposable masks for emergency centres, government institutions and border points.
A hundred protective suits had been provided to medical establishments. A further 300 would be provided on Thursday, he said. Suits of this kind may be washed and re-used up to 50 times. A total of 10 050 single-use protective suits would be provided. Close to 90 000 protective suits were coming in from Turkey, according to Nikolov, who listed numerous other items of protective equipment being supplies. Discussions were being held with 72 firms in Bulgaria to make protectie masks.
Bulgaria’s border authorities again urged people not to attempt to travel to Turkey, which has closed its borders with Bulgaria and Greece. Bulgarian National Radio said on March 19 that the column of lorries at the Kapitan Andreevo border checkpoint stretched for 30km.
At Sofia Airport, a total of 28 departing flights and 27 arriving flights that had been scheduled for March 20 have been cancelled, according to the airport’s website.
The British embassy in Sofia said that three buses due to leave Bansko on Thursday morning had been delayed, but as of the late morning, two had left for Sofia and the third was en route to Bansko.
The embassy said that it had requested additional buses for transfers from Bansko on Thursday, and the Interior Ministry had informed the embassy that two more busess would collect people who have flights today.
“We are also aware of delays to many flights departing from Sofia Airport today. In addition, we are contacting airlines with flights to the UK today to ask if flights can be held until people from Bansko arrive.
“We are aware that some of you have heard that UK nationals coming from Bansko were not allowed to board their flights this morning and had to spend the night at Sofia airport. We can confirm that all UK nationals at Sofia airport who did not make it on their flights last night have departed on flights this morning,” the embassy said.
Bulgarian Orthodox Church Plovdiv Metropolitan Nikolai said that he “freed” people from their obligation to come to church. He could not forbid them, he said. “The church is not afraid! No church will be closed and worship with be held with the utmost care.” There has been considerable controversy in Bulgaria, in the context of many public places being shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus, about the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s decision to keep its houses of worship open and continue with public services.
For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.