Covid-19: Bulgaria’s Health Minister backs making wearing masks outdoors compulsory

Bulgaria’s Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said on October 20 that he supports making the wearing of protective masks compulsory as a measure against the spread of Covid-19.

Angelov was speaking at a two-hour meeting with senior health officials and members of the expert councils on epidemiology and infectious diseases. The meeting was held against a background of the trend in recent weeks of steady increases in new coronavirus cases in Bulgaria, including on October 19, which saw the country’s death toll linked to the virus rise to 1008, and 1024 newly-confirmed cases in 24 hours.

A report by Bulgaria’s Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev recommended making mandatory the wearing of protective masks in the open.

Angelov said that during meetings in various parts of Bulgaria, he had been urged to take this step.

He told the meeting: “This is the easiest possible measure and in view of the expertise of those behind it, I believe that we should introduce it.

“As long as the experts strongly support this type of anti-epidemic measure and it is in no way restrictive for the citizens, and the expectations are due to the strengthened control and provided that we all follow the measures, the incidence of Covid-19 will decrease by up to 30 per cent. Let’s do it,” Angelov said.

Members of the expert council backed reducing mandatory quarantine for contact persons from 14 to 10 days, should they lack clinical symptoms.

Bulgarian National Radio said on October 20 that police in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia have launched large-scale inspections to check whether people are, as required, wearing protective masks in shops, other indoor public places, and public transport.

Teams of police started inspections at various places in Sofia on the morning of October 20.

Police said that the list of places being checked included public transport, medical and health establishments, pharmacies, opticians, national public health centres, administrative offices and other places where the public have access, including railway and bus stations and airports, metro stations, commercial sites, churches, monasteries, other houses of worship and museums.

The Interior Ministry said that additional police were being drawn in so that a larger number of places could be inspected.

Bulgarian National Television reported on October 20 that as of tomorrow, the municipality of Gotse Delchev is introducing a curfew for under-18s from 9pm to 6.30pm. The curfew is to be in effect for 14 days.

Exemptions are allowed for going to a pharmacy, grocery shop or to a visit a personal doctor.

Gotse Delchev mayor Vladimir Moskov said that the order also includes a ban on holding celebrations indoors such as weddings and baptisms.

The municipality made the move because of the large number of people in the Blagoevgrad district infected with new coronavirus, and a large-scale failure to comply with anti-epidemic measures.

A poll done for the European Parliament by the Kantar agency, the main findings of which were released on October 20, has found that 53 per cent of Bulgarians said that the Covid-19 crisis had had an impact on their personal income.

Twenty-six per cent said that it had not, but they expected it to, 15 per cent of the Bulgarians polled said that it would not have an impact on their personal income. Six per cent answered “don’t know”.

The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation, please click here.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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