Covid-19 Delta variant case in Bulgaria: Caretaker Health Minister asks why test result took 2 months

Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov said on June 17 that he had ordered the management of the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD) to give him all available information about the case of the patient in Pleven confirmed to have had the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Earlier on June 17, as The Sofia Globe reported, the Health Ministry confirmed the case.

Among issues on which Katsarov wants clarity on why it took so long to test the sample – from April 21 to the public announcement of the result on June 17.

He wants to know when the sample was received by the NCIPD and when it was sent abroad for testing.

Given the risk to public health, it was unacceptable for the result to be made public so long after the sample was taken, he said.

Katsarov said that there was no need for additional measures and no reason for panic.

There would be a further investigation into the contacts of the patient in Pleven who had the Delta variant.

Katsarov said that the case was an isolated one.

“But it is a strong warning that if we continue to underestimate the virus and are hesitant to get vaccinated, a wave of infection could occur earlier, before the autumn,” Katsarov said.


In a subsequent statement on June 17, the Health Ministry said that on April 1, the young man had come into contact with a Covid-19-infected person from Northern Ireland who had left Bulgaria.

At the onset of the first symptoms, the man isolated himself. There was no information that he had been in contact with other persons.

On April 5, the person was examined for Covid-19. A sample was taken at the Dr Georgi Stranski University Hospital in Pleven.

When the test was positive, the man was placed in home isolation. He had mild symptoms.

The ministry said that he had received a first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine on February 24.

On April 21, the hospital in Pleven sent 20 randomly selected samples, including from the man, for sequencing to NCIPD.

The sample was sequenced on May 5, and the data were immediately deposited with the GISAID international gene bank.

Until June 16, it was not established that this sample showed a Delta variant. A re-analysis revealed that it was a Delta variant, the ministry said.

The Ministry of Health said that it had told the NCIPD to establish a procedure for collection and analysis of samples, so as to identify new variants of coronavirus infection as soon as possible, in order to take preventative steps and protect human health and take timely measures in this regard.

(Photo: Health Ministry)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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