Covid-19 in Bulgaria: New restrictive measures take effect on November 27 at 11.30pm

The new restrictive measures approved by Bulgaria’s Cabinet take effect on November 27 at 11.30pm, in a bid to reverse the trend of rising figures of Covid-19 active cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

The measures, which remain in effect until December 21, suspend in-person attendance at kindergartens, schools and universities, close bars and restaurants – though home deliveries of food are allowed – restrict which outlets in shopping malls may remain open, close discos and night clubs, and limit privately-organised gatherings to 15 people, among other steps.

Full details of the measures, as reported earlier by The Sofia Globe, are here.

In a November 27 television interview, Chief State Health Inspector Associate Professor Angel Kunchev said that it was a fact that Bulgaria had been in first place in recent days in terms of mortality from Covid-19.

“Our country has entered the worst phase of the pandemic. On a 14-day turbidity basis, we are not in first place. Our only goal is to stop the trend of constant increase in morbidity and mortality,” Kunchev told Nova Televizia.

He said that he did not think the measures were belated, but timely.

“There are two big problems – lack of staff in the health system and distrust in the system, which leads to non-compliance with the measures,” Kunchev said.

“Our health care system currently treats 6600 people and discharges between 1000 and 2000 people every day who have recovered. The system will cope, it will be very difficult, but it will cope and no one will be left to the whims of fate.”

He said that “at the last moment”, probably one to two days before December 21, the next steps would be announced. “The development of the situation will guide us in taking future measures”.

Health Minister Kostadin Angelov told Parliament during Question Time on November 27 that at the moment, there was no vaccine against new coronavirus that had passed all phases of clinical trials.

When the vaccines are approved by the Bulgarian government, they will be administered to those who want them, on a voluntary basis, and free of charge, Angelov said.

“The Ministry of Health has taken action to develop common national rules and guidelines for vaccination of at-risk populations,” he said.

“It is extremely important for the Bulgarian government that when the vaccines are registered with the European Medicines Agency, all types of vaccines that the government will approve through the European Commission will be administered in Bulgaria free of charge and voluntarily for all Bulgarian citizens,” Angelov said.

With November 27 being “Black Friday” many took advantage of discounts and the final day, for now, of all shops in malls being open, Bulgarian media reported.

Since Angelov first announced proposed new measures on Monday – a version that was amended by the Cabinet decision on Wednesday – shoppers had been flocking to places such as major toy shop chains and electronic goods outlets to do early Christmas shopping, reports said.

On November 27, in what was billed as an attempt to prevent crowding, several shopping malls in Bulgaria extended their working hours to 10pm and in one case, 11pm.

Efforts are continuing to recruit volunteers to assist in Bulgaria’s hospitals, where shortages of medical personnel are adding to the strain.

The municipality of Plovdiv said in a statement on November 27 that it had posted a special electronic form on its homepage where applicants could submit their details.

“Doctors are the most important and any help given to them is extremely urgent, because human life and the health of our loved ones are invaluable. The lack of sufficient medical specialists makes it difficult to work in hospitals and to improve the condition of patients faster,” Plovdiv municipality said.

“That is why we call on everyone who wants, and has a medical education or is a medical student, to get involved in order to unite efforts against the invisible enemy that the people of Bulgaria and all over the world are facing,” it said.

(Photo: Military Medical Academy)

The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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