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Full-scale measures taken in Bulgaria to prevent coronavirus outbreak

Photo: BGNES

At 09:00 today at Sofia Airport a demonstration of the ability to respond in case of detection of persons suspected of infection with COVID-19 coronavirus started. An extraordinary meeting of the Security Council at the government was planned to take place at the same hour, but it was held yesterday afternoon and measures to prevent a possible coronavirus epidemic were outlined.

In order to coordinate actions in this regard, national headquarters has been established, led by the head of the Military Medical Academy and senior officials from the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Healthcare and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bulgarians arriving to the country from risky places have been urged to observe a 14-day quarantine period. As of today, arriving passenger from Italy to Sofia Airport fill out a questionnaire in the presence of a health inspector. Mobile thermometer equipment similar to that already existing at airports will be installed at land and sea border checkpoints.

Citizens will be tested only in cases of symptoms shown. So far, about 30 such tests have been carried out in this country and all showed negative results for the presence of coronavirus.

Symptoms like fever and initial pneumonia are an important condition for the test to be performed and for positive results to be reported. Otherwise, the samples would always test negative, Director of the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev explained.

He pointed out that samples are taken solely and exclusively by medical establishments according to prescription by physician and sent to the National Reference Laboratory. Testing is free of charge for citizens and hospitals as the funds are provided by the Ministry of Healthcare.

The Ministry of Education has recommended that schools restricted travel and participation in various international programs and projects. The Ministry of Sports was ordered to consider the need to postpone championships if a positive case was registered. Those involved in preventative measures were explicitly instructed to act in a manner that would prevent panic and simply to inform people how to protect themselves.

There are serious reasons for the authorities' urgent response and the measures taken come at a time of growing concern about the spread of the new coronavirus in Europe. Most of the cases have been registered in far-away China, but countries such as South Korea, Italy and Iran are also struggling to stop the spread of the virus.

About 15,000 Bulgarians live in coronavirus-affected areas in Italy. Yesterday, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised compatriots not to travel to northern Italy except in very urgent cases. When it comes to China, the travel risk level has been raised to the highest level 5, indicating a warning to suspend all travels in China and leave the country immediately.

Еditor: Stoimen Pavlov

English: Alexander Markov

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