Covid-19 in Bulgaria, roundup, April 21: Cases rise to 975

The number of confirmed cases of Covi1-19 in Bulgaria has risen by 46 in the past 24 hours to 975, counting those who have died and those who have recovered, according to an update by the national operational headquarters on the evening of April 21.

The number of those in hospital has risen in the past 24 hours by 13 to a total of 281. Of those in hospital, 40 are in intensive care.

The death toll is 45, unchanged from the information announced at the operational HQ’s morning briefing on April 21.

On April 21, Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kiril Ananiev issued an order ceasing some assisted reproduction activities.

Some exemptions are allowed, for instance freezing eggs or sperm of cancer patients with impending chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Those procedures allowed to continue must be in line with Covid-19 risk reduction recommendations. The order spelt out that each patient should be considered to be potentially infected with Covid-19, and listed several safety steps to be taken in this context.

Radio Varna reported on April 21 that 11 fast-track penalty proceedings had been initiated against motorists who had put false information on their declarations submitted to pass checkpoints controlling intercity travel.

Over the weekend of April 17 to 20, the long public holiday for the Orthodox Easter, Plovdiv police sanctioned close to 2000 people for various offences related to the anti-epidemic measures, according to the head of the Plovdiv regional directorate of the Interior Ministry, Senior Commissioner Yordan Rogachev.

Close to 1100 fines were issued in Plovdiv for failing to wear a mask or other protective face covering in a public place.

Eight hundred warnings were issued in connection with non-compliance with quarantine measures, with four fines for actual breaches of quarantine.

Of travel declarations checked so far, eight have been found to be false. All involved the motorists claiming to be delivering food to the needy. Check-ups established that these claims were not true.

Rogachev said that residents of Plovdiv had complied with the recommendation not to visit churches during the Easter holidays.

The Sofia District Prosecutor’s Office has started pre-trial proceedings against a motorist who, on April 19, having been refused permission to enter Sofia, ignored the police instruction and drove into the city. The motorist has been placed in 72-hour custody and the court will be asked to remand him in permanent custody, the statement said.

Bulgarian National Radio reported that traffic at checkpoints in Sofia was intense on the afternoon of April 21.

Before noon, there were two accidents at checkpoints. In one, a person was injured and was taken to hospital.

As of April 21, Health Minister Ananiev has changed the rules for entering and leaving Sofia.

The initial order limited entry to and exit from the city to two windows in the morning and evening. Now, entering or leaving is allowed at any time – if the person travelling has a valid and provable reason to do so.

Those in private cars must submit declarations stating the address of their place of work and giving the telephone number of the employer.

The BNR report said that there were queues of cars waiting for Interior Ministry teams to process each individual car.

Checks of the declarations are continuing. If discrepancies or incorrect information are found, prosecutors will be informed.

A total of 1000 motor vehicles were not allowed to enter or leave the territory of Rousse last week, and over the four-day long weekend alone, 500 were refused, in line with restrictions on intercity travel.

In Rousse, 190 fines were issued between April 13 and 20 for non-compliance with anti-epidemic measures. Of these, 127 were for failing to wear a mask or other facial protective covering.

Other sanctions included for crowding of people. In one case, police found five people grouped together. One, not wearing a mask, refused when asked to show his identity card, shouted insults at the police and kicked one on the leg. He was taken into custody. Pre-trial proceedings have been started and if found guilty, the 44-year-old faces five years in prison.

According to the flight information section of Sofia Airport, there will be five departing flights and five arriving flights on April 22.

The flights arriving and departing are between Sofia and, respectively, Varna, Dortmund, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and London Heathrow. Sofia Airport has flight information online in English.

The District Prosecutor’s Office in Vidin has initiated a fast-track pre-trial proceeding in connection with an electronic media article in which it was claimed that medical staff at the St Petka hospital in the city were infecting patients. The article alleged that Vidin had the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections in Bulgaria, but there was no testing of medical staff and people they had been in contact with.

An investigation established that the allegations in the media report were not true, a statement by the Prosecutor’s Office said. Proceedings were initiated against an individual, not named in the statement, under Article 326, paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code, transmitting misleading and untrue information. The penalty is two years in prison.

Bulgaria’s Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said that the Cabinet has prepared eight financial instruments backed by 4.5 billion leva (about 2.3 billion euro) targeting small and medium-sized businesses, the self-employed and other people who are on unpaid leave due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The assistance will take the form of personal, liquidity or investment loans, with the Finance Ministry due to relese additional information for potential beneficiaries in the coming days, Goranov said.

More than 61 000 employees will retain their jobs thanks to the 60:40 measure, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy said on April 12, referring to the emergency aid whereby the state picks up 60 per cent of payroll costs and the employer must cover the rest.

Within 12 days of its launch, 4445 applications were submitted by employers, covering 61 337 employees. So far, 715 applications by employers have been approved. They will receive compensation for maintaining the employment of 11 996 employees.

More than 37 per cent are in the hotel and restaurant sector – restaurants, fast food, drink establishments, hotels and accommodation. They will receive state aid for 3555 employees. Ten per cent of the approved employers are in the field of manufacturing, and a further three per cent are owners of gyms, sports clubs, among other places. Apart from this construction companies, companies running amusement parks, artistic and creative activities, film projection and other sectors have received approval.

Payment of the compensation began in the middle of last week, with 278 companies already receiving state aid for 5595 workers in two days. The total amount of the allocated funds is more than 1.5 million leva, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy said.

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Section supported by the Embassy of Switzerland.



The Sofia Globe staff

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