Crisis staff chief: Bulgaria at the bottom of the climb to peak of Covid-19

Bulgaria is still at the bottom of the climb to the peak of Covid-19, and when the climb would begin and at what pace “we cannot say,” crisis staff chief Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski told a briefing at 5pm on March 22.

Asked whether the State of Emergency, currently set to end on April 13, would be extended, he said that the peak “most probably” would be within two to three weeks, just when the State of Emergency should end. “These matters are being decided on the go,” Mutafchiyski said.

With 15 new cases confirmed on March 22 since the 9.30am briefing, the total in Bulgaria is now 186.

Responding to a reporter who asked whether it would be a good idea to confine the elderly to their homes and make them wear masks, Mutafchiyski said that masks are meant to be worn by people who are ill for the sake of protecting others. Wearing them under other circumstances lent a false sense of security, he said.

He reiterated that most of the cases of confirmed Covid-19 were among people younger than 60. The restriction allowing only over-60s to shop at supermarkets and pharmacies daily between 8.30am and 10.30 was intended to protect elderly people from infection by younger ones.

The restrictions on intercity travel were also preventative. Many cases were probably not identified, and thus the travel restrictions were intended against the spread of coronavirus.

Asked about Kalofer, where the mayor had ordered the use of a helicopter to spray disinfectant over the town, Mutafchiyski dismissed such a move as completely ineffective.

Separately, Bulgarian National Television reported on March 22 that in spite of the ban on visiting parks and other public places, many people had visited Vitosha national park in Sofia on Saturday, as evidenced by videos they had posted on social networks. Reports on Bulgarian National Radio on March 21 said that several people had violated the ban by being in the capital city’s Borissova Gradina, among other parks and gardens in Sofia.

BNR reported on March 22 that the crisis staff was to request a meeting with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s governing body, the Holy Synod, on Monday to discuss the issue of the church allowing mass gatherings in its houses of worship.

Controversially, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church – to which the majority of Bulgarians claim adherence – has allowed services to continue as normal, although some individual metropolitans have called on people not to attend church. The main Sunday morning service at Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia is streamed on Facebook and shown on public broadcast channel BNT2.

In contrast to the stance of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Chief Mufti – spiritual leader of the country’s Muslim minority – has suspended Friday prayers at mosques, the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches have announced that they would show their liturgies online, and the leadership of the Jewish community has suspended prayer services at Sofia Central Synagogue and closed it to tourists.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.



The Sofia Globe staff

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