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Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Day 324

Photo: Ani Petrova, BNR

PCR tests for those entering Bulgaria and easing of Covid-19 measures

The National Operational Headquarters recommends a gradual easing of anti-epidemic measures in Bulgaria. This has become clear at a working meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. Currently, thanks to the adopted measures, the incidence in the country on a 14-day basis is below 100 per 100,000 people and Bulgaria is one of the four European countries outside the red zone. However, the problem is the new strain of Covid-19, which is already in Bulgaria.

The decision to resume the attendance classes for students from 5th to 12th grade on February 4 has been confirmed.

From the beginning of February, the halls for sports and cultural events, as well as the shops in the big shopping centers can reopen.

Today, the Minister of Health Kostadin Angelov will issue an order that would make a PCR test mandatory for entry into the country of all citizens coming from third countries and the EU, in order to limit the spread of the new coronavirus strain.

Bulgaria's Health Minister opposes reopening of restaurants

Meetings and talks with representatives of restaurant sector in Bulgaria are forthcoming, said in Stara Zagora the Minister of Health Kostadin Angelov regarding the tension in the restaurant industry, BTA reported.

"Since the beginning of February, schools will reopen for students from 5th to 12th grade, and measures in the sectors of culture and sports will be relaxed. Once we see that morbidity and mortality rates remain stable, then we can talk about loosening of the measures in other sectors. What makes me happy is that in all the conversations in recent weeks there are no comments about overcrowded hospitals and lost lives, about delayed ambulances. This is a thing of the past, thanks to the efforts of all of us," Angelov said.

Businesses support easing of anti-epidemic measures

The business approves the gradual easing of restrictive measures taken due to the pandemic, Tsvetan Simeonov, chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has told BTA.

Bulgarians are reasonable and if morbidity started rising, they would agree to tighten the measures again. However, there has been a decline in the number of new coronavirus cases and restrictions could be eased, he added. There are protests against the restrictions not only in Bulgaria - they are a reasonable response of the industry, said Tsvetanov on the occasion of planned protests of restaurateurs who call for the opening of restaurants in the beginning of February.

Retailers call for reopening of shops closed because of anti-epidemic measures

Owners of shops closed due to anti-epidemic measures call for immediate reopening, even at the cost of fewer working days and limited working hours. This was stated by the Bulgarian Retail Association in a letter to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and the Ministers of Finance and Economy, BNR reporter Natalia Ganchovska said. Shops located in malls have been the most affected by anti-epidemic measures.

“State support under SME support programs, ‘Keep me’ or 10% of the reduced turnover, are either extremely untimely to save some, or extremely insufficient to help others, or do not reach those in need at all," the association say.

New shipment of vaccines arrives in Bulgaria

Over 14,000 doses of Pfizer vaccines have been delivered to Bulgaria. Another 83,000 doses from the same manufacturer are expected in February and 104,000 more in March, although the amount for March has not been fully specified. This was what director of the Bulgarian Drug Agency Bogdan Kirilov has told journalists. At the end of the week, 3600 doses of Moderna vaccine are expected, BNR’s Poli Nacheva reported.

If the European Commission authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine, we would expect a shipment from it in February. "At the moment there is no final information from AstraZeneca and the EC and we are working on several scenarios, so that we could respond to possible delays," Kirilov said. According to him, a fourth vaccine could be authorized, which would allow to speed up the vaccination process.

Measures against Covid-19 block the spread of seasonal flu

So far, there have been no proven flu viruses in our lab, which is unusual. Previously, the flu epidemic usually started at this time of year, Prof. Nelly Korsun commented to bTV. As head of the National Reference Laboratory for Influenza and Acute Respiratory Diseases at the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, she has explained that currently the circulation of influenza viruses across Europe is very low.

Only 13 influenza viruses were detected in Europe last week, which is terribly unusual, Prof. Korsun said. This is due to the anti-epidemic measures related to the spread of the coronavirus. Apparently, they also have an effect on the spread of influenza viruses, she explained.

121 new Covid-19 cases after 1,207 tests

The new coronavirus cases in Bulgaria are 121 after 1207 tests during the past 24 hours. Positive samples are about 10%. The highest number of newly infected people is in Sofia - 35. This is shown by the data in the Single Coronavirus Information Portal at midnight.

Nine people with coronavirus infection passed away and 180 recovered. There are 2874 people in hospitals as 283 of them are in intensive care wards.

The total number of vaccinated people in Bulgaria has reached 26,143.

The active cases are 26,929. A total of 8,820 people with coronavirus have passed away in this country as the mortality rate is 4.11%.

More than half of Bulgarians already have herd immunity against Covid-19

Herd immunity against the new coronavirus is beginning to work. Over 50% of Bulgarians will not react to the virus because they are immune from previous encounters with coronaviruses. We see countries with drastic measures in which the situation is not better than in Bulgaria, Prof. Andrey Chorbanov, director of the Department of Immunology at the Institute of Microbiology, said in an interview for the Horizon Channel of the BNR.

He stressed that the virus from the UK has two main mutations and that the virus moves differently between different ethnic groups due to the specific environment provided by the gene pool of the respective ethnic group. The fact that one virus is much more contagious in one country does not mean that it will be so in another, the scientist said.

Compiled by Joan Kolev and RB's News team

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