Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Day 319

Vaccination certificate is not discriminatory

In order to meet the EU plan for vaccination of 70% of people in the community by the spring, pharmaceutical companies must fulfill vaccine supply contracts and Member States must have the capacity to vaccinate more people quickly. This was what MEP Andrey Kovatchev, Deputy Chair of the Group of the European People's Party has told BNR. Kovatchev firmly denied that the Covid-19 vaccination certificate would be discrimination against those who do not want to be vaccinated. "There will be no restrictions or travel bans. People only need to decide for themselves whether they prefer a test and the possibility to remain under quarantine if the country requires it," Kovatchev said.

New Covid-19 strain expected to make pandemic situation worse

Before the expected easing of restrictive measures against the pandemic, health authorities warn that another tightening was possible if the new strain of coronavirus that has emerged in Britain spread to Bulgaria. "Everyone should be aware that if this threat returned the way it did in the UK, the health system would be put to the test and measures would be taken," Chief Health Inspector Angel Kunchev has told bTV. "We could face serious problems but the hope is that with the warming of weather the activity of this new strain would subside," Kunchev expects. At a meeting with the Premier Borissov, health experts have already announced that 1/5 of the tests indicate presence of the more contagious strain.

Less than 7% of 7,921 tests return positive result for Covid -19

544 new cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in this country out of 7,921 tests performed, data of the Single Coronavirus Information Portal indicates. Positive samples in the past day were 6.8% of the total. There are 33,815 active Covid-19 cases. 3,223 patients are in hospital as 318 of them are in intensive care wards. 49 people with established coronavirus infection have passed away in the past 24 hours. 6,243 people have recovered. 2,588 people have been vaccinated for the past 24 hours. With them, the number of vaccinated people in this country has already reached 22,226. A second dose of vaccine has been given to 3,168 people.

Parliamentary committee discusses ways to help quarantined people vote

The National Assembly Committee on Legal Affairs approved at first reading amendments to the State of Emergency Act, which allow quarantined citizens to vote in the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. According to the amendments, such citizens will be able to vote via mobile ballot boxes or in separate polling stations. There will be separate polling stations in hospitals with Covid-19 units. Citizens will be also able to vote with expired identity documents. Thus, crowds in front of the Ministry of Interior offices will be avoided. The amendments are expected to be voted at first reading in plenary hall on Friday.

10 people diagnosed with British coronavirus variant infect 29

U.K coronavirus variant spreads quicker than the original strain, Professor Todor Kantardzhiev, Director of the National Center for Parasitic and Infectious diseases and member of the National Coronavirus Headquarters said for BNR. In his words, in Bulgaria ten people carrying the virus infect four or five other people, whereas in November last year ten people infected fifteen. However, 10 people infected with the British variant infect 29 people. Professor Kantardzhiev again emphasized the importance of face masks. There is no data indicating that patients diagnosed with the Brisith strain suffer more severe symptoms, Todor Kantardzhiev added.

EC approves Bulgarian scheme in support of small and medium enterprises

The European Commission has approved a Bulgarian scheme to the tune of about EUR 80 million in support of support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. It will be co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and will be available to enterprises from certain sectors. The companies must meet the requirements set by Bulgaria. These are companies whose activity is suspended or limited by the restrictive measures introduced by the government. The grants will be based on last year's turnover of the enterprises and may amount to a maximum of EUR 76,000, said BNR’s correspondent in Brussels Angelina Piskova.

Finance Minister Kiril Ananiev diagnosed with Covid-19

Bulgaria’s Minister of Finance Kiril Ananiev has tested positive for Covid-19, the Ministry of Finance announced. Minister Ananiev underwent a regular coronavirus test. This country’s Deputy Minister of Finance Rositsa Velkova will temporarily assume Minister Ananiev’s functions until he returns to work. 

Bank deposits increase amid Covid-19 crisis

In 2021, interest rates on loans will remain at last year's levels - 4.5% to 6.5% for consumer loans and between 2.5% and 3.1% for mortgage loans, Tihomir Toshev, Executive Director of Credit Centerconsulting company, forecasted in an interview for BNR. In his words, liquidity in the banking system is increasing - bank deposits are growing and already amount to EUR 30.67 billion. The loans extended to the population amount to EUR 12.78 billion. Real estate prices and demand for mortgage loans have not been impacted by the coronavirus crisis, Tihomir Toshev went on to say.

Health Ministry: catering establishments are not likely to open before February 18

Bulgaria’s Ministry of Health does not support the request of the catering establishment and restaurants to re-open from February 1, Minister Kostadin Angelov said in the town of Veliko Tarnovo. Kostadin Angelov specified that the restrictions on sports are to be lifted. He also confirmed that as of February 4, some students from the upper grades will return to school. The classes will probably be divided into two smaller ones, in order to comply with the anti-epidemic measures. Restaurants, bars and shopping malls are expected to open on February 18.

Compiled by: Gergana Mancheva and Radio Bulgaria’s news team

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