Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Roundup, April 17: 846 cases, tight travel restrictions in Sofia

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria has risen by 46 in the past 24 hours to 846, the national operational headquarters said in a 5pm update on April 17.

There were 21 new cases confirmed in the course of Friday. Of these, two were in Sofia, eight in Vidin, five in Stara Zagora, three in Haskovo and one each in Gabrovo, Rousse and Sliven. Further test results are pending, the operational HQ said.

A total of 244 patients are in hospital, 34 of them in intensive care.

Forty-one of those who had tested positive for Covid-19 have died. On April 17, a 74-year-old woman died in the Veliko Turnovo regional hospital. She also had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, pulmonary hypertension, and heart failure.

Midnight brought a ban on travel in and out of Sofia, with certain exemptions, to curb the spread of new coronavirus as the four-day Orthodox Easter weekend began.

Bulgarian state railways BDZ cut back services to and from Sofia Central Railway Station, while as of 3pm on Friday, Sofia Central Bus Station was closed until 7am on Tuesday. The last bus to leave was heading for Vidin, after which all bus services were suspended.

Saturday saw tensions in the Faculteta neighbourhood of Sofia, where most residents are from the ethnic Roma minority.

It and other ethnic Roma neighbourhoods have been subject to checkpoint controls because of concern about them being high-risk for the spread of Covid-19.

Media reports said that tensions rose when a group of people gathered outside around noon in an apparent response to a social network post calling for a protest, while the Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that gendarmerie intervened to prevent conflict after a man was arrested for domestic violence against his wife. The situation was calm, the ministry said on Friday afternoon.

Speaking to Bulgarian National Radio on April 17, Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova said that the stepped-up measures in Roma neighbourhoods in the capital city were not about discrimination but about containing the infection and saving the lives of people living there.

The municipality was ready, in co-operation with the Bulgarian Red Cross, to distribute food packages to people in the Filipovtsi and Fakulteta neighbourhoods.

Figures released on April 17 by ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, showed that new passenger car registrations in Bulgaria in March 2020 were 50.7 per cent down compared with March 2019.

In March 2019, new passenger car registrations in Bulgaria added up to 3266. The same month a year later, the number was 1609.

New passenger car registrations in Bulgaria in the first quarter of 2020 were 29.6 per cent down compared with the first quarter of 2019, to a total of 5927.

ACEA said that in March 2020, the EU passenger car market recorded a dramatic drop (-55.1 per cent) in registrations of new vehicles as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

With containment/lockdown measures taking hold in most markets from around the middle of the month, the vast majority of European dealerships were closed during the second half of March, ACEA said.

All 27 EU markets contracted in March, but Italy took the biggest hit, with registrations falling by 85.4 per cent to 28 326 new cars. Likewise, demand also collapsed in France (-72.2 per cent) and Spain (-69.3 per cent) last month. Germany recorded a less extreme drop than the other key markets, but registrations fell by 37.7 per cent nevertheless.

From January to March 2020, demand for new cars in the EU declined by 25.6 per cent, with the impact of the corona crisis on March figures weighing heavily on the total.

Each of the major EU markets posted significant losses so far in 2020: Italy -35.5 per cent, France -34.1 per cent, Spain -31 per cent and Germany -20.3 per cent, ACEA said.

(Photo: Military Medical Academy)

Please support The Sofia Globe through our Patreon page



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.