Bulgaria Tightens Restrictions as of March 22 amid Spike in COVID Infections

March 18 (BTA) -  The health authorities in Bulgaria
announced Thursday that they are tightening the restrictions
amid a surge in coronavirus infections in the country.
Restaurants are told to close again and schools to go back to
online schooling, among other measures.

Steep increase in mortality

There is a spike in COVID-19 deaths, national coronavirus task
force chief Ventsislav Moutafchiiski told a news briefing where
the new measures were announced. According to him, mortality
increased by 46 per cent in a week and by over 120 per cent over
 a 14-day period, which places Bulgaria third globally in terms
of the rate of increase. In terms of rise in single-day cases 
Bulgaria ranks seventh in the world and fourth in Europe, said

The infection rate in the country is an average of 483 per
100,000 population which places Bulgarian ninth in the EU, said
Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kounchev.

Bulgaria is not an exception to the situation and is not unique,
 he added. The wave of the British variant of the coronavirus
has spread across the whole continent and now Central Europe and
 the Balkans have the highest infection rates, said Kounchev.

Reacting to reports of a growing number of infections among
children, Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said that at the
moment there are no difficulties in the treatment of children.
They have pneumonic changes to the lungs and there is no
"unfavourable exit" among them.

The new measures

Catering establishments will be closed to visitors and will
offer only home deliveries. This applies too to restaurants in
hotels where guests will have to eat in their rooms. Classes in
schools are suspended, kindergartens and nurseries will close
too. Gambling halls and all commercial outlets with an area
larger than 300 sq m will close with the exception of food
shops. Shopping centres and malls will be closed and only
pharmacies, optician shops, pet stores, dry cleaning services,
banks and telecom operators will be allowed to stay open on
their premises. Congresses, conferences, seminars, trainings,
exhibitions and other public events are banned. Gyms and
swimming pools will close together with cinemas, museums, and
dance classes. Celebrations, weddings and christenings are
allowed with only up to fifteen people present.
Health Minister Angelov urged the political leaders to do what
it takes and prove their concern for every single person in the

He assured the media that all closed business will be
compensated. According to him, everyone who is experiencing
difficulties will be compensated under the measures which are in
 place and if necessary additional compensation schemes will be

Borissov: "Тhe life and health of the people are the most

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov commented that they opted for "the
 strictest of measures because the life and health of the people
 are the most important. He noted that because the current laxer
 restrictions in Bulgaria are not observed, people are not
wearing face masks and do not observe social distancing, the
health system is overstretched and he has ordered the health
authorities to take urgent measures.

"I have never been motivated by whether people will like us or
hate us. Elections come and go. People's health always comes
first for us, even  at the expense of suffering political
damages from our opponents," said Borissov.

Bulgaria is holding general elections on April 4 and there have
been speculations that it may have something to do with the kind
 of measures the authorities are imposing.

According to political scientists and pollsters the likely
outcome of the new lockdown will be lower voter turnout in the
elections, writes Dnevnik.bg on Thursday. "The lockdown and the
anxious tone add to public anxiety. More scared people means
lower voter turnout and low voter turnout means better chances
for GERB," says Parvan Simeonov. Sociologist Yuri Aslanov shares
 his views. Political scientist Evgeni Dainov goes on even
further. According to him "the whole effort is to scare people
or obstruct them going to the polls", and the lower voter
turnout works for the controlled vote for GERB, the Movement for
 Rights and Freedoms. The three analysts are doubtful whether
the restrictions will be relaxed three days before the
elections, as it was announced on Thursday.
No risk for the elections

There is no risk to the election process, if anti-epidemic
measures are observed, said Chief State Health Inspector
Kounchev. So far over 24,000 election commission members have
been vaccinated and inoculations will continue right until the
elections even with a single dose because it still provides
protection, added Kounchev. He said that hundreds of disposable
protective suits have been provided for members of mobile voting
 sections, as well as 14,000 litres of disinfectants.  LN/PP



Source: Sofia