Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Roundup, April 29

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Bulgaria has risen to 1447, counting those who have died and those who have recovered, after 10 more people tested positive on April 29, according to the daily evening update from the country’s Health Ministry.

The new cases were in Sofia (four), Kyustendil (three), Vratsa (two) and Rousse (one).

The death toll has risen by three since this morning to 64 – a 75-year-old man with cancer and a 55-year-old woman with obstructive lung disease and diabetes died in Yambol, and a man with heart disease died in Vidin.

There were 310 people in hospital, up from 287 in the April 29 morning update, including 38 in intensive care, down from 39 in the morning.

More than 15 000 Interior Ministry staff were each paid an additional 650 leva on April 28 as a provision from the government for front line workers against Covid-19 during the State of Emergency, the ministry said.

The money goes to those who meet any one of three criteria.

One is duty at intercity travel checkpoints, quarantined settlements, designated areas and border checkpoints. The second is physical checks that people are complying with mandatory quarantine. The third is patrol duty related to implementation of orders by the Minister of Health to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Bulgaria’s Cabinet said it approved a program of portfolio guarantees to support the liquidity of micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses affected by the State of Emergency and the Covid-19 pandemic.

This program would be executed by the state Bulgarian Development Bank and was expected to “aid the activity of the sectors affected the most by the pandemic – retail, services, including transportation, tourism, hotels and restaurants, logistics and exports,” the Cabinet said in a statement. The statement did not say how much government funding was allocated to the program.

The Cabinet also approved an agreement between the Health Ministry and South Korea’s Bioneer Corporation to purchase six ExiPrep 16Dx machines designed to extract viral DNA or RNA from clinical samples, as well as 320 ExiPrep Dx viral DNA/RNA kits, each one containing 96 tests. The Government statement did not how much the purchase would cost.

Bulgaria’s Transport Ministry said that the theoretical part of driving licence tests would resume on May 4 and the practical part on May 11.

If the situation allows, training of learner drivers at training centres will resume on May 18, the ministry said.

“In order to successfully restart the training process and the tests of driving licence candidates, all the prerequisites for guaranteeing the safety of both trainees and examiners and trainers are being created,” Transport Minister Rossen Zheliazkov said.

“The working time for conducting driving licence tests at the Road Transport Administration EA will be extended to 12 hours. The capacity of the test rooms will be reduced to comply with physical distance measures and the premises will be disinfected after each test. The same disinfection measures will be taken for vehicles that are part of driving courses. The use of masks and gloves also remains mandatory,” he said.

Bulgaria’s pupils were set to finish the school year without returning to classrooms, using distance learning, it emerged after Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev met with representatives of education trade unions and parental organisations.

The end-of-year exams for seventh-grade pupils (used for highschool admission) and 12th grade students (highschool graduation) would still be held in schools under strict sanitary and security precautions, with the exam dates set to be announced at a later date, depending on the pandemic developments, Bulgarian National Television reported.

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office said on April 29 said that an investigation by the National Revenue Agency, Consumer Protection Commission and Communications Regulatory Commission had found that a courier company was charging a five leva “coronavirus tax” in spite of this not being stated on the company’s list of fees.

Investigations into other courier companies are continuing and further reports are forthcoming, the statement said.

(Photo: Bulgarian armed forces)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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