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Pandemic in Bulgaria – chronology and updates

Photo: EPA/BGNES

It has been nearly a year since the first case of Covid-19 was registered in China and experts around the world are still thinking about various measures to limit the spread of the virus. When the state of emergency was declared in Bulgaria in mid-March, most Bulgarians complied with security measures. Facing the unknown threat, people strictly adhered to the restrictions and the results were more than satisfactory. By mid-June, out of the nearly 7 million people in this country, the number of infections did not exceed 100 people and deaths were few.

In the summer, as if overwhelmed by statistics, people did not pay much attention to doctors who called for compliance with the measures. And in early October, the picture changed dramatically. Gradually, as the number of patients drastically rose, skeptics likening the disease to ordinary seasonal flu went silent.

On November 17, for the first time since the beginning of the epidemic, Bulgaria reported the grimmest statistics. For 24 hours, 152 people lost the battle with the disease and 44% of the samples tested were positive. This means that almost every second person is infected. According to mathematician Prof. Nikolay Vitanov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, a consultant at the National Headquarters, despite the sharp increase in the number of patients and those in need of urgent medical care, the expected peak of the disease would come in December.


"You see what the situation is - we have started to register more than 4,000 cases a day. In November the trend for the next winter months is set. If we did not take action, December would be difficult, and January and February – too. Our health-care system can no longer cope with the growing number of patients."

Hospitals have suddenly become overcrowded and started to lack beds for critically ill patients. After opening of additional Covid-19 wards, the lack of doctors, nurses and paramedics, who one by one became infected with the virus, was obvious. In small towns, the medical establishments fell into a critical condition and with it the problems plaguing the health-care system in Bulgaria began to be more visible.

"There are problems with the specialists who have to take care of the growing number of patients. And the health care system is the one that strongly influences the condition of people who need treatment," Prof. Nikolay Vitanov said in an interview with BNR. “Whatever the measures, there are people with mild symptoms who cannot afford to pay for the tests themselves or be absent from work. They continue to spread the disease. Therefore, even with strict adherence to the measures, the number of new cases will remain close to 800 per day."

Because of the lack of places for treatment of Covid-19 patients, the Minister of Health Kostadin Angelov issued an order to open coronavirus wards in each hospital. This has made chronically ill patients, cancer patients and people with transplants feel threatened and deprived of adequate care.

In Bulgaria, there is a patient in almost every family. Fearing additional infection in medical institutions, many Bulgarians began to treat themselves at home following the advice of survivors of the disease. For the most common flu symptoms, some even resort to antibiotics. Doctors and pharmacists have warned that self-medication with these drugs poses great risks in the long run because it creates the preconditions for uncontrollable multidrug-resistant strains.

And we are still in the middle of the autumn season and in addition to Covid-19, other flu strains and rhinoviruses have just started to spread.

English: Alexander Markov

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