Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Roundup, April 11 – Death toll rises, mask-wearing decreed

The death toll in Bulgaria among people who had tested positive for Covid-19 rose by two on April 11 to a total of 28 since March, according to an evening update by the national operational headquarters.

In the course of the day, 13 new cases were confirmed, bringing the country’s total to 661 since the first cases were confirmed on March 8.

Of the new cases on April 11, ten were in Sofia and three in Kyustendil.

There are 230 patients in hospital, 35 of whom are in intensive care.

The two patients who died on April 11 were a 73-year-old woman, who also had a stroke and diabetes, who died in Tsaritsa Joanna Hospital in central Sofia, and a 73-year-old man who died eight days after being admitted to Pulmed University Hospital in Plovdiv. He had been diagnosed with arterial hypertension.

Acting on the instructions of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kiril Ananiev ordered the compulsory wearing of protective masks or other suitable face coverings in all public places between April 12 and 26 inclusive.

Police in Sofia shut down the Zhenski Pazar (“Women’s Market”) on Saturday following consultations with Sofia municipality because of the management of the market’s failure to comply with anti-epidemic regulations, Bulgarian National Radio reported.

All commercial activities in the area of the market have been ordered shut down, and police presence stepped up.

Bulgarian media reported on April 11 that the good spring weather prompted large numbers to go outside.

By the afternoon of April 11, 220 fines of 300 leva (about 150 euro) had been issued in Sofia for breaking regulations against crowding and against visiting parks and other outdoor and indoor public places.

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova urged people to be disciplined and to comply with the regulations.

While most people adhered strictly to the regulations, unfortunately, in many gardens and green spaces between blocks of flats, people were gathering. There were not enough police to deploy in front of every block of flats, she said.

The chief of police in Sofia, Senior Commissioner Georgi Hadzhiev, said: “The police have been extremely tolerant so far. The goal is not punitive but preventative. Of course, those who do not abide by the ban will be fined”.

In a public appeal on April 11, the Bulgarian Medical Association said that close to a month had passed since the State of Emergency because of the Covid-19 pandemic was declared.

“It has been trying for all of us, but the results are visible and Bulgaria remains little affected by the disaster (compared with) other countries,” the BMA said.

“In order not to waste our achievements and to not make all our efforts meaningless, please – stay home! Follow the recommendations of the national operational headquarters! Stay healthy!” the medical association said.

For Bulgaria, a key period lies ahead with the approach of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Easter, in a country where the majority claim adherence to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. There is great concern about the risk of the virus being spread by gatherings at churches.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, among others, has called on Bulgarians to stay at home rather than go to church for the services in the runup to and at Easter.

The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, while implementing disinfection measures, is keeping its houses of worship open, and has been told to ensure that physical distancing is kept to. It has said that services will be held out of doors instead of inside churches.

Metropolitan Antonii, of Western and Central Europe, is among Bulgarian Orthodox Church leaders who has called on people to pray at home instead of going to church. But, he told Bulgarian National Television, the church was a place of prayer and worship, and if people came, the church could not turn them away.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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