Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Roundup, April 9 – from the World Bank to checks on couriers

After better-than-expected GDP growth in 2019, Bulgaria’s economy, in line with other EU countries, is set to plunge into a recession in 2020, due to the toll the Covid-19 pandemic is taking on export and domestic activity, the World Bank said.

Bulgaria’s GDP is expected to decline by 3.7 per cent in 2020, according to World Bank’s Spring 2020 Economic Update for Europe and Central Asia.

In addition to providing a regional forecast, the Economic Update calls for decisive policy measures that prioritize investments in health care systems and provide safety nets for people, especially the most vulnerable, in order to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in Europe and Central Asia.

Projections of the economic implications of Covid-19 are subject to significant uncertainty, the World Bank said.

The 2021 forecast for Bulgaria’s GDP growth is to reach 3.9 per cent.

Bulgaria’s national operational headquarters said on the evening of April 9 that the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country was 618, having risen by seven since the morning. Of the seven new cases, six were in Sofia and one in Pazardzhik.

Twenty-four people have died, in March and earlier in April, while to date 48 had recovered.

There are 230 people in hospital, 32 of them in intensive care.

Bulgaria’s Culture Minister Boil Banov has been fined for smoking in his workplace.

On March 23, Bulgarian National Television showed an extract from an online meeting of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet. A viewer alerted health authorities after Banov was seen lighting a cigarette while at his desk.

On April 8, the regional health inspectorate in Sofia told the complainant that Banov had been fined a sum between 300 and 500 leva (about 150 to 250 euro), the penalty for a first offence.

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has told the Consumer Protection Commission and National Revenue Agency to check on the activities of courier companies in Sofia, the Prosecutor’s Office said on April 9.

The investigation was ordered following complaints that a courier company was charging illicit additional fees.

The checkup on whether consumers are being illicitly charged addional fees by courier and freight forwarding companies is to continue throughout the State of Emergency, the statement said.

The Bulgarian Association of Restaurants predicts bankruptcy of about 50 per cent of the industry and insists on an urgent meeting members of the Cabinet to determine immediate, working economic measures.

The association is concerned about the lack of adequate measures to support small and medium-sized businesses in the industry, it said.

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova has ordered the executive directors of municipal market management companies to establish an organization to ensure compliance with all measures against the spread of Covid-19, the municipality said on April 9.

Market executives should introduce controlled access to prevent the presence of large numbers of people, as well as organize compulsory one-way traffic – separate entry and exit points at each market, so as not to interfere with the flow of people.

A distance of two metres must be kept between sellers and customers, personal protective equipment must be used and markets should be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Officials of the Sofia Regional Inspectorate and the Ministry of Interior will monitor compliance with the measures.

Fandukova has ordered the testing of social services employees for Covid-19, a separate statement said.

This involves about 200 people, including social workers, orderlies and drivers, who deliver food to the homes of 1500 people in the Bulgarian capital city every day. Testing will begin on April 10.

After that, 110 municipal police will be tested.

A total of 365 doctors, nurses and medical staff from the municipal Fourth and Fifth City Hospitals have been tested to date for Covid-19. The medical staff were tested with PCR tests with funds from the Sofia nunicipality.

PCR tests are also to be performed on 95 medics from municipal First and Second City Hospitals, which have wards for the treatment of patients with Covid-19.

Ninety-three employees of the Emergency Relief and Prevention Directorate, volunteers from the voluntary formation of the Sofia Municipality and municipal police were tested at the Ministry of Interior hospital with rapid tests under programme of the Ministry of Interior and national operational headquarters.

(Photo of World Bank HQ: Shiny Things/

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The Sofia Globe staff

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