Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Roundup, April 8

There are a total of 593 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria, counting 24 deaths, one of them on Wednesday, the national operational headquarters said on April 8.

The total number of confirmed cases was 12 higher than the figure announced at the morning briefing. Of the new cases, seven are in Sofia, three in Kyustendil and two in Smolyan.

A total of 133 patients with confirmed Covid-19 are in hospital, of whom 27 are in intensive care.

The death on April 8 was of a 65-year-old man, in Shoumen Regional Hospital, who had been admitted with pneumonia on March 26. A PCR test confirmed Covid-19, and further tests confirmed that he had lung cancer. Over the past two days, two consecutive PCR tests were negative for coronavirus, but the patient’s condition deteriorated and he died.

The announcement of the figures was among developments in Bulgaria on April 8 related to the Covid-19 situation.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy said that a total of 643 applications from employers had been submitted to the Employment Agency for state support under the 60:40 scheme, a number almost double that as of Friday last week.

The 60:40 scheme provides for the state to pick up 60 per cent of payroll costs and the employer the other 40 per cent.

The ministry said that the companies that had applied wanted income support for 7231 employees. They are mainly small and micro enterprises in the restaurant, bar, fast food outlet and furniture manufacturing sectors.

Separately, the ministry said that employees who are unpaid leave because of the suspension or contraction of their businesses resulting from the State of Emergency may be hired on a second contract by an employer whose businesses are continuing normally.

Employment on a second employment contract does not require the permission of the employer with whom the employee has a basic employment contract, unless there is an explicit prohibition therein.

There is also no limit to the length of time that employees can work under the second employment contract while on unpaid leave. The only requirement is for the second employer to arrange the work so that daily and weekly breaks are respected.

The Employment Agency said that people who are unemployed or socially disadvantaged can earn additional income by taking on short-term work in agriculture labour. Employees on so-called “one day” employment contracts do not lose the right to social benefits.

Following on the morning’s announcement by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov that there would be “mass testing” of people in Bansko to establish the presence of antibodies, it emerged that about 1000 people in the mountain resort town – formerly under a two-week quarantine – would undergo rapid testing.

Those to be tested include people who worked in the ski resort’s tourism business this past winter, staff of hotels and restaurants, medical personnel, social workers, municipal employees, police and, on the recommendation of GPs, people who had been in contact with those infected.

The most recent official figure for the population of Bansko was in the 2011 census, about 8500.

Discussions are continuing on plans to go ahead with a military parade in Sofia to mark Armed Forces Day on May 6. The national State of Emergency currently is to continue until May 13.

Options being considered are holding the parade without the public present, and scaling the parade down to a march-past of corps and regimental banners.

Wizz Air is to suspend its flights between Sofia and Lisbon from April 9 to 13.

The decision to suspend the route was because of measures taken by the Portuguese authorities to limit the spread of Covid-19, the airline said.

Sofia municipality is starting to involve volunteers in disinfection activities, the municipality said on its website.

As of April 9, twenty-five volunteers will disinfect public transport stops.

Municipal transport companies continue to disinfect vehicles, subways and stations. After the weather improved at the beginning of this week, the municipality resumed the washing and disinfection of streets, boulevards, refuse bins and public places.

For the Bulgarian Jewish community, the evening of April 8 was bringing the celebration of Passover, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.

Members of the community are celebrating at home, rather than gathering together in large extended family groups or inviting friends, as a step against the spread of coronavirus.

This year’s days of Passover, which ends on the evening of April 16, see the Sofia Central Synagogue closed as a step taken weeks ago against the spread of coronavirus.

In a message, Central Israelite Religious Council president Sofia Cohen and Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria president Alexander Oscar said this year’s Passover Seder would be different: “We will not sit with our grandparents, we will not sit with our relatives and friends because we want to protect them and have the opportunity to celebrate many more holidays together in the future.

“But tonight we will all remember that we are one people and in every Jewish house in Bulgaria and in the world at this moment, the Haggadah is read, and we will remember that even if we are sitting alone at home, at the same time other Jewish families are alone at home and also celebrating Passover – one way or another, we are still together.”

“The situation we are in now inevitably leads to gloomy thoughts and despair, but we wish you to turn to the story of the Exodus, the story of Passover, and find in it the wisdom, hope and belief that this dark time will soon be behind us and we will be with our loved ones and friends again.”

Weeks ago, the leadership of the community made special arrangements so that members of the community could receive matzos, traditional for the Seder table, delivered free of charge to homes of members of the community, so that no one need come to the Synagogue.



The Sofia Globe staff

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