Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Checks of those returning to Sofia will be serious, mayor says

Police checks of those returning to Sofia at the close of the Orthodox Easter weekend will be serious, mayor Yordanka Fandukova said on April 18, the second day of a ban on cars exiting and entering the city.

Few exemptions from the ban apply. Reports on Saturday said that during the window allowed for travel for work, large numbers of motorists had tried to leave Sofia.

Those lying on the declarations of their reason to travel may be sent to prison for up to three years and fined 100 to 300 leva (about 50 to 150 euro).

Bulgarian National Radio said that on April 18, the situation in the centre of Sofia was calm, while in residential areas, people were shopping and walking their dogs.

Fandukova thanked those who had not attempted to travel out of Sofia, while – against the background of reports of Sofians having travelled to resort town Bansko and the southern Black Sea coast – challenging them to say why they were spreading the virus.

As of April 18, testing of Sofia urban transport drivers for Covid-19 was beginning, Fandukova said.

Together with the regional health inspectorate, the municipality had provided 400 tests for drivers at two garages. Testing would be carried out in stages.

The garages were chosen because they were the places where there had been the only two cases of drivers testing positive for Covid-19.

Step-by-step testing of all 2000 urban public transport divers was planned, she said.

Bulgarian National Radio said on April 18 that in spite of the restrictive measures, people had been going to Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Sofia, the country’s largest Bulgarian Orthodox Church house of worship.

Those in the cathedral had maintained physical distancing and had been wearing masks, the report said.

Bulgarian National Radio’s Radio Bourgas said on Saturday morning that there was no increase in traffic in that part of the southern Black Sea coast.

The report quoted Sozopol mayor Tihomir Yanakiev, citing police data, as saying that by that time, about 80 vehicles with people from the interior of Bulgaria had passed through the checkpoint to the southern Black Sea coast.

“At present, Sofia is closed but not quarantined. This does not allow us to impose mandatory quarantine on these outside people,” he said. The motorists all had declarations about owning properties in Sozopol or Chernomorets.

Earlier on Saturday morning, national operational headquarters chief Major-General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski said that there had been more Sofia cars than local ones on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

Radio Blagoevgrad reported that over the past five days, 700 people in Bansko had been tested for antibodies to coronavirus. The testing will continue after the Orthodox Easter long weekend.

The national operational HQ said in an evening update on April 18 that there were now 878 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria, an increase of 32 compared with the figure in the evening update on April 17.

Forty-one people have died and 153 have been discharged from hospital after recovering from Covid-19.

Sofia has the largest number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19, 518.

The operational HQ said that so far, the number of people in Bulgaria who had been tested for Covid-19 was 26 417.

A total of 246 people are currently in hospital, 35 of them in intensive care.

Sixty-nine medical personnel have tested positive.

(Photo: Sofia municipality)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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