Home | Notizie | Forum | Club | Cerca 
Subscribe
Share/Save/Bookmark

Bulgaro
     
         Utente: non registrato, entra
 BTA 
BTA Free News


• (NW) Euler Hermes: Bulgaria's Non-payment Risk Rating Remains Moderate
Sofia, April 1 (BTA) - Despite the aggravated economic situation, Bulgaria's rating in terms of non-payment risk remains at B2 (medium), according to a quarterly report by credit insurer Euler Hermes, released on Wednesday. Nine of the 18 monitored sectors in this country,...
• (DF) COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reach 422, Death Toll Rises to 9
April 1 (BTA) - The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bulgaria have reached 422, and the number of fatalities has increased to nine, according to data reported by the national coronavirus task force here on Wednesday. Of the infected persons on record, 241 are men and 181 women. The ninth victim, who succumbed to the disease in Kyustendil (Southwestern Bulgaria), is a 57-year-old man who recently returned with his wife from Germany. He suffered from mild hypertension and double pneumonia. Twenty patients have recovered fully, including three over the past 24 hours. A total of 207 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized and under medical observation. Of these, 18 are in intensive care (in Sofia and Plovdiv). The new positive tests confirmed by laboratories total 10: eight in Sofia and two in Blagoevgrad. Rousse Region (North Central Bulgaria) had its first COVID-19 case on Tuesday: a man who worked at a ski resort in Austria, the national task force chief, Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, told a regular news briefing on Wednesday morning. After one MP, Hassan Ademov, tested positive for the disease, all members of Parliament will be checked for coronavirus on Wednesday. Prof. Moutafchiiski said that if they all test negative, the legislature will continue working. NV, RI/LN, LG /??/
• (DF) Cabinet Proposes State of Emergency Extension until May 13
April 1 (BTA) - The Council of Ministers has decided to propose to Parliament to extend until May 13 the nationwide state of emergency, declared on March 13, the Government Information Service reported. The draft decision was submitted by the Health Minister at Wednesday's cabinet meeting. Bulgaria is fighting to the best of its abilities to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, while the magnitude of the crisis cannot be assessed or predicted yet. Pressure on the healthcare system can be eased only by extending the restrictions and the social isolation measures. This is confirmed by the data and recommendations issued by the national task force. The number of COVID-19 cases in the EU/EEA and the UK has risen exponentially in the last few days, surpassing infections in China nearly fivefold and those in the US threefold. This makes Europe the worst affected continent by the novel coronavirus. Based on data of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the risk of widespread transmission is moderate for the general population and very high for people aged over 60 and individuals with chronic and pre-existing conditions. The risk of widespread COVID-19 infections could remain moderate in the coming weeks only if effective epidemic control measures are in place in the EU Member States. The expert conclusion shows that the healthcare systems of the Member States will reach their maximum capacity in the next few weeks, which prompted the Council of Ministers' proposal that Parliament extend the state of emergency in Bulgaria. RI/DD /??/
• (DF) Budget Goes into Deficit Zone in March
April 1 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Finance Ministry released data on the performance of the Consolidated Fiscal Programme (CFP) showing that the budget is estimated to go into deficit territory in March. The deficit is estimated at 205.4 million leva. The CFP revenues and grants as of March 2020 are estimated at 11,007.6 million leva, 23.5 per cent of the annual target. Compared with this time last year, the revenues increased by 149.5 million leva due mostly to the receipts under EU programmes and funds. The revenue from corporate tax was lower than last year's due to the extension of payment deadlines this year as part of the coronavirus pandemic measures. The CFP expenditures (including Bulgaria's contribution to the EU budget) amounted to 9,732.8 million leva as of March 2020, which was 20.8 per cent of the annual estimates. A year earlier, the CFP expenditures totalled 9,053.5 million leva. Considering the fact that a national emergency was declared in mid-March, its fiscal effects is expected to make itself more pronounced in the coming months when both the revenues and the expenditures will suffer from the changed economic environment and the extraordinary measures that have been taken, the Finance Ministry said. NV/LN/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, April 1 (BTA)
• (DF) Covid-19 Cases in Bulgaria Increase to 412
April 1 (BTA) – The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bulgaria have increased to 412, the head of the national task force. Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, told a regular news briefing on Wednesday morning. There were 33 newly diagnosed patients in the past 24 hours and 23 were admitted to hospital (adding up to a total of 146 in hospital). The northern region of Rousse had its first COVID-19 case on Tuesday. The patient is a man who worked at a ski resort in Austria. Twenty patients have recovered fully, including three in the past 24 hours. 14 of the hospitalized patiens are in intensive care (in Sofia and Plovdiv). After one MP, Hassan Ademov, tested positive, all deputies will be tested on Wednesday. Prof. Moutafchiiski said that if they all rest negative, the legislature will continue working.
• (NW) 63 Medium and Large Companies Affected by COVID Emergency - Trade Union
Sofia, March 31 (BTA) - Sixty-three medium and large companies with over 37,585 employes have been affected by the COVID-19 emergency, a survey by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CITUB) released on Tuesday suggests. It offers a snapshot by March 27 of the socia...
• (NW) Union Expert Slams EC Policy on Mobility of Critical Workers amid COVID-19 Restrictions, Urges Government to Ensure Income for All during Crisis
March 31 (BTA) - The econimic adviser of the influential Podkrepa Labour Confederation, Vanya Grigorova, slammed the European Commission for its guidelines for ensuring the mobility of critical workers between EU countries amid the COVID-19 restrictions on movement and said the Bulgarian government should make sure everybody has an income during the crisis so as not to see some Bulgarians becoming "Europe's dead men". She said that some of the most vulnerable Bulgarian people will have no choice but take up jobs as care givers for older people or children in the richer European countries without even having life insurance. Her comment comes a day after the European Commission adopted what it called "new practical advice" to ensure that mobile workers within the EU, in particular those in critical occupations to fight the coronavirus pandemic, can reach their workplace. This includes but is not limited to those working in the health care and food sectors, and other essential services like childcare, elderly care, and critical staff for utilities. Euroactiv.eu reported Monday that the same day Austria flew 231 health workers from Bulgaria and Romania to make sure care for its citizens who need it is not interrupted by the severed transport connections across the EU. The story points out that the Austrian health system is strongly dependent on Eastern European workers. Grigorova calls the EU position "schizophrenic": on the one hand they issue instructions for limiting non-essential travel within the EU and on the other they urge facilitating the mobility of critical workers. "Now they will take from Bulgaria and Romania vulnerable people who are ready to do anything to secure income for themselves. They will quarantine them for 14 days [...], then for six weeks they will work as care givers for seniors and after that they will send them back, which will heighten the COVID-19 risk for Bulgaria and open the door wide for prolonged circulation of the virus for economic reasons," Grigorova said. She said that the countries which take in such workers should just increase the pay and hire local workers. "We will be feeding a predator system unless measures are taken," Grigorova said. She argued that what the government needs to do is provide direct state aid for all Bulgarian citizens, including those who have worked without a contract, to the amount at least equal to the minimum monthly wage. This will be some protection during the crisis, she said. Grigorova said that the government also needs to provide urgent support for the self-employed by offering them a tax break, as well as for the parents of children younger than 12 - who are forced to take a leave to look after their children while schools are closed and schooling is done online - and older workers with health conditions. Grigorova's Podkrepa union insists that the government's 60/40 wage support measure - with the government paying 60 per cent of wages in coronavirus-affected businesses for three months to avoid large-scale job cuts - should be reviewed two weeks after it starts to be applied to see what could be tweaked to improve it. She said that she knows of several companies which are doing great during the crisis but would take advantage of the 60/40 scheme because they can. On the other hand, there are badly hit companies which will be unable to use it because they can't afford to pay their 40per cent share of wages. RI/LN /??/
• (DF) Compulsory Wearing of Protective Masks Cancelled
March 31 (BTA) - Addressing a briefing here on Tuesday, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev said that the compulsory wearing of protective masks in outdoor and indoor public spaces is now cancelled. The measure was introduced on Monday as a means to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but due to the lack of public consensus on the matter the wearing of masks will remain only a recommendation, Ananiev explained. The briefing was also attended by Interior Minister Mladen Marinov. The State will purchase 1 million FFP2 or FFP3 protective masks that will be distributed among the regional services of the Labour and Social Policy Ministry, so as to reach socially disadvantaged persons and those who cannot buy a mask. The deliveries will probably take up to two weeks, Ananiev said. If once again it becomes necessary to order the wearing of protective masks, the fine for failure to comply will be reduced, he specified. Under the Health Minister's order issued on Monday and rescinded on Tuesday, the fine was 5,000 leva. Within 3 weeks the local production of protective clothing and masks will be predominant and Bulgaria will no longer be dependent on other countries, Ananiev said. All available masks are immediately distributed, with a priority being given to doctors, emergency medical care, regional health inspectorates, and the Interior Ministry's regional services. He also said that parents who have to stay at home due to the closed creches and kindergartens, could take a paid or unpaid leave. Once this legal opportunity is exhausted, the assistance of another, healthy relative could be sought, Ananiev argued. Interior Minister Marinov said that no one has been sanctioned for not wearing a mask. The police have issued 400 statements of violation of the ban on visits to parks and gardens and on gatherings of more than two adults. There have been a similar number of violations of the compulsory quarantine. Talking about the possible tracking of traffic data on mobile devices, Marinov said that under the contingency legislation, in certain cases that measure could be applied when a given person refuses to observe quarantine. The procedure reveals the location of the tracked device's owner and that information is forwarded to the court within 24 hours; if further penal action is not authorized, the collected data is destroyed, Marinov explained. RI/DS /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 31 (BTA)
• (DF) Finance Minister: No Tax Increase Planned
March 31 (BTA) - The worst-case scenario the government considers regarding the coronavirus epidemic in Bulgaria is a three per cent drop of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and start of restoration of employment at the end of the year. No tax increase is planned in Bulgaria, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said Tuesday, speaking to reporters. When it was passed in November 2019, the 2020 budget envisaged a GDP growth 3.3 per cent. Goranov commented the proposal on updating the budget the government passed on Monday. He said experts expect zero or 0.7 GDP growth, but the cabinet has opted for a worst-case scenario. Unemployment is expected to increase by two percentage points, Goranov said, noting that this are preliminary estimates. The Finance Minister stressed that things depend on how long the restriction continue related to "the medical aspect of the crisis". Taking a reporter's question, Goranov spoke about the option to increase the cap on a new government debt to ten billion leva, from the current 2.2 billion leva, by offering government securities on the domestic and foreign market and possible financing from international financial institutions. "We are preparing for an external and an internal debt without this meaning such will be incurred necessarily because for now we have enough fiscal buffers," Goranov said. The Finance Minister said that a possibility is considered on limiting additional performance-related pays which is part of the remuneration mechanism in the state administration. RY/ZH /??/
• (DF) Cabinet Adopts Draft 2020 State Budget Update to Finance COVID-2019 Containment Effort, Tackle Revenue Undercollection
March 30 (BTA) - At an extraordinary meeting held by video conference on Monday evening, the Bulgarian Government adopted a draft Bill to Amend and Supplement the 2020 State Budget Act, the Government Information Service reported. The purpose of the draft legislation is to authorize increased spending required under the Act on the Measures and Actions during the State of Emergency and address the expected undercollection of budget revenues.
• (DF) Cabinet Decrees Procedure for Payment of Job Security Compensations to Employers, Applications to Be Accepted from March 31
March 30 (BTA) - At an extraordinary meeting here on Monday, held by video conference, Bulgaria's Council of Ministers adopted a decree establishing the terms and procedure for the payment of compensations to employers for the purpose of keeping their staff employed under the state of emergency declared by a National Assembly resolution on March 13, 2020.
• (DF) Confirmed COVID Cases in Bulgaria Reach 359
March 30 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 359, up from 354 in the morning, according to the latest update from the national coronavirus task force.
• (NW) Business Climate in Industry, Retail Trade and Services Worsens in March
March 30 (BTA) - Bulgaria's general business climate index dropped by 3.7 points in March 2020 compared with February 2020, which resulted from a worsening business climate in industry, retail trade and services, the National Statistical Institute reported on Monday. The index component describing the business climate in industry decreased by 5.2 points as a result of industrial entrepreneurs' low estimates and expectations about the condition of their companies. Supply orders to industrial plants became less secure, which led to growing pessimism about business activities and staffing in the next three months. The perceived insecurity of the economic environment became the most prominent challenge to industrial businesses in March, leaving labour shortage in second place. Most industrial entrepreneurs expect selling prices in industry to remain unchanged in the next three months. The index component describing the business climate in the construction sector rose by 1.4 points, which was mainly due to construction entrepreneurs' positive assessments of the current condition of their companies. They see a slight increase in new supply orders received in March, and their expectations about construction activity in the next three months became more optimistic. Labour shortage in the construction sector had a stronger negative effect than before, with 52.2 per cent of construction entrepreneurs naming it as their main problem. The perceived insecurity of the economic environment and market competition were the second and third most serious difficulties. Selling prices are expected to remain unchanged in the next three months. The index component describing the business climate in retail trade fell by 6.6 points as a result of retailers' lower assessments and expectations about the condition of their companies. Retailers also became more reserved in their forecasts about sales and supply orders (domestic and international) in the next three months. Market competition remains the biggest challenge to retailers. The adverse impact of the insecure economic environment increased as well, leaving low demand in third place. Most retailers expect selling prices in their sector to remain unchanged in the next three months. The index component describing the business climate in the services sector decreased by 3.1 per cent. Current market demand for services is seen as slightly lower than before, but expectations for the next three months are optimistic. The main challenges in the services sector are market competition, the perceived insecurity of the economic environment, and labour shortage. The adverse impact of low demand increased by 9.1 points. Selling prices in the services sector are expected to remain unchanged in the next three months. RI/VE /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 30 (BTA)
• (DF) Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reach 354
March 30 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 354, eight more since the last released figures, national coronavirus task force chief Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski told a briefing on Monday morning. Fifteen people have recovered, while 217 are in hospital, 13 of whom in intensive care. Eight people have died, the youngest aged 51. Moutafchiiski said that the total quarantine of the mountain town of Bansko imposed on March 17 will be eased on March 31 to the same restrictive measures enforced elsewhere in the country. Moutafschiiski again said that certainly the pandemic causes grave inconveniences to people but observing the strict measures is the only way to save themselves. "When the whole world is burning, taking an aimless walk is irresponsible," he said. The briefing on Monday morning was held despite the fact that on Saturday it was announced that the national task force will start giving media briefings once daily, at 5 pm, instead of twice as until then. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) Confirmed COVID Cases Reach 346
March 29 (BTA) - The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country has reached 346, with eight new cases, Major General Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, who heads the national coronavirus task force, said on Sunday. Of these, 214 are in the capital Sofia. Fourteen patients have been discharged after two negative test results. Eight deaths from the coronavirus have been reported, and the average age of the victims is 66, said Moutafchiiski. From March 30, the national coronavirus task force will hold its regular briefing at 8 am, the government information service said. Also, the Health Ministry will post updates from the task force with the test results for the day at 5 pm. RY/PP //
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 29 (BTA)
• (DF) Confirmed COVID Cases in Bulgaria Up by 18 to Reach 331
March 28 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 331, including 18 new cases reported on Saturday, national coronavirus task force chief Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski told a briefing. He said earlier on Saturday that hospitals across the country had prepared 7,400 beds, including more than 1,470 intensive-care beds, and health workers. Orders for personal protective equipment and recommendations for medicine supplies are being prepared on this basis. The national task force will start giving media briefings once daily, at 5 pm, instead of twice as now. The venue will be the Council of Ministers building. RY/DD //
• (DF) Government's Draft Document on Coronavirus Bailouts to Companies to Be Ready on Sunday
March 28 (BTA) - An updated version of the government draft decree on compensating employers who have suspended operation due to the state of emergency declared on March 13 was backed by the trade unions and the employer organizations, except the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) and the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIBG), Deputy Prime Minister Mariyana Nikolova said on Saturday. She chairs the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation. The final version of the document will be prepared by Sunday noon and the Labour and Social Policy Minister will put it up for adoption by the government on Monday. Nikolova added that the tripartite council decided that the reference point for the contributory income would be its amount for the same month of 2019 as suggested by the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour. The Bulgarian Industrial Association welcomed the wider scope of economic activities qualifying for compensation, but asked for a more specific provision on the reference month for the contributory income. The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry backed the draft document, asking that the need of further steps be assessed after the first month of implementing the measures. The Union for Private Economic Enterprise expects the decree to specify the documents required to prove a company's drop in revenues, said Nikolova. Of the two employer organizations that did not back the draft decree, BICA called for immediate revisions to the Act on Measures and Actions during the State of Emergency and asked for a public register of the employers who will be paid compensation, while CEIBG expressed partial support for the document and backed BICA's demand for legislative amendments, said Nikolova. The employers and the trade unions stressed the need of continued dialogue between the government and the social partners on the long-term economic measures not covered by the decree. RY/DD //
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 28 (BTA)
• (DF) Prime Minister Borissov, German Chancellor Merkel Converse over Phone
March 27 (BTA) - In a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented challenge, and overcoming it would be impossible without coordinated joint efforts, the Cabinet press service reported. The two officials discussed the spread of COVID-19 and measures that have proven efficient in mitigating it. Chancellor Merkel expressed appreciation for Bulgaria's efforts. The conversation focused on the previously discussed topic of Bulgaria's delivering protective equipment to Germany once it meets the needs of its own population and is able to help other European citizens. Borissov and Merkel also discussed the successfully developed rapid test for the coronavirus by a leading German engineering company. The new test takes only two hours to determine with certainty if a patient is infected with COVID-19 or is already recovering from it. Borissov pointed out that Bulgaria is ready to purchase large quantities of the new diagnostic device, once the German company is ready to supply the European market. The Bulgarian Prime Minister also noted that the executed actions must go hand in hand with efforts to devise measures at the European level to soften the socioeconomic repercussions of the pandemic, and expressed his belief that united, Europeans can overcome the crisis. RY/MT
• (NW) Central Bank to Auction Lv 200 Mln Treasury Bonds on April 6
Sofia, March 27 (BTA) - The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) said here on Friday that it will hold an auction on April 6 for the sale of interest-bearing Treasury bonds maturing in five years. The maturity date on the issue (BG 20 300 20 114/15.01.2020) is January 25, 2025, BNB s...
• (DF) Three Types of Testing Kits to Check for COVID-19 at Different Stages of Epidemic
March 27 (BTA) - Three types of testing kits can be used to check for coronavirus infection at various stages of the epidemic, said Military Medical Academy Head General Major Ventsislav Moutafchiiski at a briefing in Cabinet, attended by PM Borissov and Deputy PM Donchev. Prof. Moutafchiiski explained that the only reliable way to detect COVID is through a PCR test which takes time and requires special equipments and well-trained personnel. He said that in Bulgaria, with laboratories working at full swing, about 1,000 - 1,200 cases can be detected per day, which means that we will need about 30,000 testing kits per month. The cost will be 930,000 leva per month. The second way to detect the virus is using a fluorescent immunochromatographic test, based on an antigen on the surface of the virus. The identification takes about 5 minutes. Another, faster type of testing kits for widespread use is being currently developed. It resembles a pregnancy tests, and the goals is to produce 20,000 per day or at least 300,000 per month, which would cost about 10 million leva. When the epidemic has reached its peak, it will be time for antibody-based tests. They can detect how many people have contracted the disease without knowing it. The plan for that stage is to produce about 40,000 testing kits per day, which will cost about 10 million leva per month. The first type of tests is 100% accurate. The second can be used to quickly detect newly infected, and can be used for people with symptoms, medical staff, vendors, pharmacists, clerks, transportation staff. These testing kits will also be useful to detect newly infected people among risk groups. The third type, quick tests, are important, but only after the peak of the epidemic. They will give a clear picture of how many people have developed immunity against the virus, which in turn will be the first step toward revitalizing social life and the economy. Prime Minister Borissov said that so far, Bulgaria has made an order with the European Commission for two types of testing kits: 600,000 RNA-based tests and 400,000 quick tests. He will try to add another 500,000 tests to the public procurement, and failing that will look for other ways to deliver them to Bulgaria. He also announced that on Friday the Council of Ministers has approved an agreement between Bulgaria and China for the procurement of one million masks and 50 ventilators. Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev said that the most important thing is to implement the measure 60/40 as soon as possible. This means compensating employers for not laying off workers in the sectors most affected by the epidemic. He hopes that the measure will be quickly approved by the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation, followed by a favorable decision by Cabinet, so that it can come into force early next week. RI/MT /??/ /??/
• (NW) Three Types of Testing Kits to Check for COVID-19 at Different Stages of Epidemic
Sofia, March 27 (BTA) - Three types of testing kits can be used to check for coronavirus infection at various stages of the epidemic, said Military Medical Academy Head General Major Ventsislav Moutafchiiski at a briefing in Cabinet, attended by PM Borissov and Deputy PM Donch...
• (NW) Gross External Debt at EUR 33,797 Mln at End-January
March 27 (BTA) - Bulgaria's gross external debt amounted to 33,797 million euro (52 per cent of GDP) at end-January 2020, the Bulgarian National Bank reported on Friday. Compared with end-January 2019, it dropped by 97.7 million euro (0.3 per cent). Long-term liabilities were 25,631.2 million euro (75.8 per cent of the total debt, 39.4 per cent of GDP) at the end of January 2020, decreasing by 177.2 million euro (0.7 per cent) compared with end-January 2019. The gross external debt of the general government sector stood at 5,434.2 million euro (8.4 per cent of GDP) at end-January 2020 . Compared with end-January 2019, it dropped by 82.3 million euro (1.5 per cent). RY/VE//
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 27 (BTA
• (DF) Number of COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reaches 276
March 27 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 276, up by 33 in the past 24 hours, national coronavirus task force chief Maj. Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said, speaking at a regular morning briefing on Friday.
• (DF) Bulgaria to Fast-Test Police, Public Transport and Ambulance Drivers for COVID-19
March 26 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the medical advisory board proposed to him - and it has been discussed with the coronavirus task force – and a decision was made to do 1,000 fast tests among several groups of people: police, drivers in public transport and ambulance drivers. Borissov was speaking at a news briefing he held late on Thursday after participating in a video-meeting of the European Council. Bulgaria has 264 confirmed coronavirus cases and three fatalities. Eight patients have recovered completely. This country only does PCR tests of seriously ill patients and people who have been in contact with them, and fast tests are not widely used. The fast tests will show whether the people have had the coronavirus and have antibodies, the Prime Minister explained. The same people will be retested two weeks later. “Then we will know, statistically, when the peak of the outbreak curve will come,” said Borissov. He said that the fast tests will be donated and the testing will be free of charge. The head of the coronavirus task force. Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, who was also at the news briefing, said that the fast tests will be used to predict the shape of the COVID-19 curve but the tried-and-true PCR has no alternative at this stage of the epidemic and later as it peaks. The task force and the medical advisory board have so far disagreed as far as fast tests were concerned: the former were adamant that they are too inaccurate to be used, and the latter argued in favour of large-scale fast-testing. A representative of the advisory board said at the news briefing that now everybody agrees about what needs to be done with the available resources. Taking a reporter’s question, the Prime Minister said that he is a deeply religious man and cannot order churches to close to believers ahead and during the Easter holidays. Borissov also said that he finds it pointless to have a meeting of the Consultative Council on National Security with the President. “There is nothing for this Council to decide,” he said. He also said that he no longer have his daily conferences with President Rumen Radev amid the coronavirus crisis after the President criticized the government in a statement where he announced he was imposing a partial veto on a national emergency law. Commenting the video meeting of the European Council, Borissov said it was focused on COVID-19, the EU external borders, relations with Turkey, the issues facing the member states and what needs to be done to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis. He said that the member states have now started to consider possible scenarios, a common conclusion and solutions. LN/
• (NW) 312
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Interior Minister Mladen Marinov (right) BTA Photo //
• (DF) Number of COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reaches 264
March 26 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 264, with eight recoveries, national coronavirus task force chief Maj. Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said, speaking at a regular afternoon briefing on Thursday. Since the last briefing on Thursday morning, there have been 21 new confirmed cases, two of which are the first for the towns of Kurdzhali (Southern Bulgaria) and Haskovo (Southeastern Bulgaria).
• (DF) Zaharieva: All-European Decision on Fast Transit Corridors Needed
March 26 (BTA) - After meeting with Hungary's Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Peter Szijjarto on Thursday, Bulgaria's chief diplomat Ekaterina Zaharieva stressed the importance of having an all-European decision ensuring fast transit corridors, especially for basic necessities such as food, medication and face masks.
• (NW) Current School Year Not to Be Nullified
Sofia, March 26 (BTA) - The current school year will not be nullified despite the COVID-19 crisis, Education and Science Minister Krassimir Vulchev told Nova TV on Thursday. He said that remote online learning, which has become the norm for school-goers during the crisis, is v...
• (DF) Restrictions in Fight against COVID-19 Extended by Two Weeks until April 12
March 26 (BTA) - The restrictive measures put in place against the spread of the coronavirus in Bulgaria are extended by two weeks until April 12 including, according to an order to this effect issued by Health Minister Kiril Ananiev on Thursday, Ananiev's Ministry said. The measures include: ban on going to restaurants, bars, entertainment establishments, gambling outlets, sport facilities including gyms. Restaurants can only do deliveries but in compliance with strict sanitary requierments. Cultural and sport events are banned. Shopping centres are closed with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies and offices of banks and insurance companies in them. All other stores outside shopping malls can work but with strict measures for disinfection and physical distancing between customers. Universities, schools, kindergartens and nurseries are closed. More than two elderly people cannot gather together in outdoor and indoor public spaces. Owners of retail outlets are to organize their work so as not allow more than two people over 60 years inside. The 8.30 am - 10.30 am band for elderly people shopping remains. All people waiting in lines should be 2 m a part. All employers should set up remote work as extensively as possible, and where such is impossible, ensure proper disinfection, instructions for personal hygiene and banning sick workers from coming to work. Traffic to and from regional centres is banned, save in concrete urgent reasons (work, medical care, returning home). Visits to parks, playgrounds and sports facilities are banned. Dog walking is allowed, under certain conditions. RI/ZH /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 26 (BTA)
• (NW) Majority of Companies Members of German-Bulgaria Chamber of Commerce Expect Considerable Drop in Sales - Survey
March 26 (BTA) - Nearly 31 per cent in a poll of 75 Bulgarian companies who have trade and business relations with, or investors from, Germany, expect a considerable drop in their sales and proceeds in 2020 due to the coronavirus situation, the German-Bulgarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce said. The poll was conducted between March 20 and 23. Bulgaria declared a state of emergency to cope with the coronavirus situation on March 13. A little over 23 per cent of the polled companies said they still cannot assess the situation and the possible impacts. Three per cent do not expect drops after the end of the state of emergency. The main hindrances to doing business as usual are insufficient liquidity (12.89 per cent), drop in demand (14.67 per cent), employees on sick leave (12.44 per cent), disruptions along the supply chain (11.56 per cent), travel restrictions (9.78 per cent). Some of the expected consequences are closure and termination of enterprises, and opting for new activities. The measures companies plan to introduce due to the coronavirus situation include asking employees to go on leaves (31.13 per cent), lay-offs of part of the staff (18.87 per cent), downsizing (17.92 per cent), halving working hours (16.04 per cent). Asked how the business can support the executive power, 30 per cent of the respondents in the poll said they are ready to come up with concrete measures, 20 per cent are willing to make donations in kind or in services, 10 per cent can take up care services to the worst affected social groups or help the national coronavirus task force, 8.75 per cent can donate protective equipment, 2.5 per cent can make cash donations. Nearly 19 per cent say that keeping jobs, making donations and paying taxes and fees are the main support they can render to the government. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) Number of COVID-19 Casesin Bulgaria Reaches 243
March 26 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 243, national coronavirus task force chief Maj. Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said, speaking at a regular morning briefing on Thursday. Since the last briefing on Wednesday afternoon, there has been one new confirmed patient. There are coronavirus patients in18 out of the total of 28 regions in Bulgaria. Moutafchiiski said that the task force will propose to the Health Minister to extend the restrictive measures until April 12. The measures went in force on March 13 for an initial period of two weeks. Moutafchiiski also said that the peak of the epidemic in Bulgaria could be with lower than initially expected intensity and within the capabilities of the healthcare system. "If we leave things without control, we will need 500,000 ventilators which cannot be sourced in entire Europe," he said. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) Number of COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reaches 242
March 25 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 242, national coronavirus task force chief Maj. Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said on Wednesday afternoon. The new patients in the past 24 hours are 24, 16 of whom in Sofia. At his briefing in the morning, Moutafchiiski said that all hospitals across Bulgaria have expressed readiness to receive COVID-19 patients. The hospitals have three days to specify how many beds they can provide for the purpose. RY, RI/VE, ZH /??//??/ .. //
• (DF) Number of COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reaches 220
March 25 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 220, national coronavirus task force chief Maj. Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said on Wednesday morning.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 25 (BTA)
• (DF) Medical Council Established Under Cabinet to Help Tackle COVID-19 Outbreak
March 24 (BTA) - The newly established Medical Council under Cabinet aims to tackle a health problem like the COVID-19 outbreak, which the Bulgarian health care system is not prepared for and lacks the necessary resources, the head of the newly established Council, Prof. Kosta Kostov, told journalists here on Tuesday at the Council of Ministers. Kostov presented the members of the new Council, which include experts ranging from professors and physicians, to a dentist, a psychiatrist and a lawyer. "As written in the Prime Minister's order for the establishment of the Council, our goal is to come up with recommendations for diagnosing and treating COVID-19 and its complications," Kostov said, adding that the Council will provide expected and prompt information by building trust among the public about the measures that are taken. Citizens deserve this information and constant access to it, he noted. This is why two news conferences will be given twice a week - on Tuesday and Friday. In addition to that, a Facebook portal will be created where everything the Medical Council and the expert councils come up with will be posted. The portal will be administered by journalist Konstantin Valkov with the purpose of providing clear and reliable sources of information, Kostov explained. RI/MY /??/
• (NW) Keeping Jobs Crucial in Crisis, Buffers Available in Both Budget Spending and Debt, Financial Experts Say
March 24 (BTA) - While most countries have already announced generous economic packages for businesses and households, Bulgaria's Government has opted for stability and launches rather timid ideas without clear estimates of their costs. It is too early for an accurate assessment of the impact of the crisis, but the budget nevertheless has clear parameters with buffers that can be used, experts told the press. MinFin, Experts Agree on Lv 3 Bln Revenues Shrinkage The crisis found Bulgaria in a relatively good shape, posting successive budget surpluses in recent years which the Government has been spending liberally. The 2020 budget was planned with a 3.3 per cent growth, with GDP expected to reach 126.8 billion leva and zero deficit, while the debt is expected to be 23 billion leva or 18.2 per cent of GDP at the end of the year, low compared to other countries. The point is how far the annual revenue target will be met, financial expert Lyubomir Datsov told the "Sega" daily. "Resources and activity are being cut, but if the level of employment is kept then a comeback will be faster. If the crisis continues until the end of the year and GDP shrinks by 4-5 percentage points, the negative growth will reach minus 1 per cent. The loss of revenue is likely to approximate 3 billion leva," he pointed out. Speaking on bTV, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov made the same predictions but warned that revenues could dive even deeper. Although such underperformance is significant, it is not fatal, as the revenues planned in the consolidated fiscal programme for 2020 total 46.8 billion leva. Experts are adamant that in such a situation Bulgaria should not experiment with tax holidays or other ideas to pursue social policy through taxes. Spending Buffers The 2020 budget is supposed to spend exactly as it collects, with a zero budget at the end of the year or even a surplus, considering the routine practice of planning buffers. Figures from previous years show that reserves were set aside on both the revenue and expenditure sides. In both 2018 and 2019 (even after an update on account of the F-16 purchase), the exchequer reported a better balance than planned, the difference being slightly over 1.2 billion leva. If particular planned investment expenditures are scrapped, this, too, will give rise to reserves. It has already become clear that the army may have to wait for its modernization, for which 495.500 million leva were budgeted for 2020. The Government has also been urged to give up the idea to set up a new water and sewerage holding, which is to be financed by 1 billion leva transferred to the budget of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. Critics of this approach argue that such spending should not be cut because its generates economic activity. "The 1 billion leva allocated for water supply projects can go to a large number of small companies if concentration is avoided. If public procurement is restructured and rechanneled to the broadest possible range of companies, the business will pick up," Datsov said. Another 240 million leva will be released on the expenditure side after the European Commission decided that Member States would not be required to recover unspent advance payments under operational programmes. Part of these resources will definitely be used for new measures to fight CIVID-19. It has already emerged that 20 million leva under Operational Programme Human Resources Development will be spent to give medics and other front-line responders to the pandemic a 1,000 leva supplementary pay. The expenditure side is yet to be restructured. The Government has already announced the allocation of 500 million leva to the Bulgarian Development Bank to provide liquidity support to companies affected by the coronavirus restrictions (the amount that will be saved on the army projects). New budget spending will also be needed to pay 60 per cent of the wages of workers who risk being laid off because of the crisis in the course of three months, provided that their employees cover the remaining 40 per cent. The funds needed for this purpose have yet to be estimated, but keeping jobs is crucial in a crisis like that, and this is precisely what the Government is trying to do, Datsov said. Budget Update and Deficit Under the circumstances, an update of the budget and a deficit is almost a foregone conclusion, and even the Finance Minister has said this on the record. If expenditures are kept under control and the decline in revenue is limited to 3.0 billion leva, financial experts say the deficit may not exceed 2-3 per cent of GDP. The Exchequer could cover such a deficit and would not bring about a substantial imbalance. The fiscal reserve is currently in a good condition, standing at 10.7 billion leva, compared to a permissible level of 4.5 billion leva. "However, this rock bottom should not be hit because the country will then be unable to afford any extraordinary expenditures - a situation that led to the resignation of former finance minister Simeon Djankov. Debt management also offers a certain amount of reserves. Bulgaria is far from the critical level, 50 per cent of GDP, but the situation is not right to go to external markets. Datsov expects the issues to be placed on the domestic market instead. For this year, the new permissible debt amounts to 2.2 billion leva, which exceeds maturity repayments because the Ministry of Finance has approved a programme to accumulate future reserves for 2023 for payment of Eurobonds issued in 2016. Preparations for this maturity may be spaced out for the coming two years and, if necessary, this debt may be used to finance a budget deficit in 2020. VE/BR, LG /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, March 24 (BTA)
• (DF) 202 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
March 24 (BTA) - A total of 202 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Bulgaria, Major-General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national coronavirus task force, told a news briefing on Tuesday morning. The single newly registered case is in Sofia.
• (NW) 202 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
Sofia, March 24 (BTA) - A total of 202 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Bulgaria, Major-General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national coronavirus task force, told a news briefing on Tuesday morning. The single newly registered case is in Sofia. Mouta...
• (NW) Bulgarian Patriarch Addresses Nation on Coronavirus Crisis
Sofia, March 24 (BTA) - On Monday evening His Holiness, the Patriarch of the Bulgarian Church Neophyte, sent a message to the people expressing his care and his prayers for the salvation of all victims of the virus, as well as all who are sick and are suffering. Patriarch Neo...
• (DF) 201 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
March 23 (BTA) - A total of 201 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Bulgaria, said here on Monday afternoon Major-General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national coronavirus task force. Of the eleven newly registered cases, one is in the western town of Doupnitsa, two in the southern town of Pazardzhik, and seven are children in Sofia. A total of 36 people are currently hospitalized, two of whom are in critical condition and are currently in Sofia's Pirogov emergency hospital.
• (NW) 311
MP Spas Gurnevski (GERB) BTA Photo //
• (NW) Parliament Sustains President's Vetoo on Provisions of COVID-19 State of Emergency Measures Act
Sofia, March 23 (BTA) - At an extraordinary plenary sitting on Monday, Bulgaria's Parliament sustained a veto that President Rumen Radev imposed on certain provisions of a law regulating the measures and actions during the month-long state of emergency that the legislature...
• (NW) Parliament Sustains President's Veto on Provisions of COVID-19 State of Emergency Measures Act
Sofia, March 23 (BTA) - At an extraordinary plenary sitting on Monday, Bulgaria's Parliament sustained a veto that President Rumen Radev imposed on certain provisions of a law regulating the measures and actions during the month-long state of emergency that the legislature...
• (DF) Parliament Sustains President's Vetoo on Provisions of COVID-19 State of Emergency Measures Act
March 23 (BTA) - At an extraordinary plenary sitting on Monday, Bulgaria's Parliament sustained a veto that President Rumen Radev imposed on certain provisions of a law regulating the measures and actions during the month-long state of emergency that the legislature declared by a resolution on March 13 in connection with the coronavirus epidemic.
• (DF) 201 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
March 23 (BTA) - A total of 201 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Bulgaria, said here on Monday afternoon Major-General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national coronavirus task force. Of the eleven newly registered cases, one is in the western town of Doupnitsa, two in the southern town of Pazardzhik, and seven are children in Sofia. A total of 36 people are currently hospitalized, two of whom are in critical condition and are currently in Sofia's Pirogov emergency hospital. There are no statistics showing that a certain blood type is more vulnerable to contracting the virus, Mutafchiiski added. According to him, such a correlation will probably be found after the epidemic has passed. In every major city, there are halls that can be fully equipped within a day's time. There are over 15,000 beds in stock. Preparatory instructions like the one that took place in Sofia, will be organized in other major cities, such as Rousse, Varna and Plovdiv. Medical teams are undergoing instruction to increase the number of laboratories doing COVID-19 tests. Over the last two weeks, some 200,000 Bulgarians have returned from abroad. For the last 24 hours alone, 15,000 have entered this country by air, and 8,000 by land, Mutafchiiski pointed out. The authorities are checking for open cafes and restaurants. Mutafchiiski reminded the public that residents can signal the police if they see a cafe or restaurant open despite the ban. RI/MT
• (DF) Number of COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reaches 185
March 22 (BTA) - The number of COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 185, national coronavirus task force chief Maj. Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said at his regular briefing on Sunday. Three recoveries from COVID-19 in the country were confirmed on Saturday. To be considered recovered, a person needs to test negative for the coronavirus twice in a row, Moutafchiiski specified. The three persons will be given a 30-day sick leave and a recommendation to stay at home. A total of 30 coronavirus patients were in hospital by Sunday afternoon, Moutafchiiski said. He declined to predict the number of hospitalized patients when the infection peaks. Although older people are believed to be more vulnerable to the disease, young people contract it as well, the expert noted. They suffer less, but they can spread it around. Since the disease cannot be proven in people who have not developed the symptoms or were not exposed to it until very recently, it is best to quarantine the contacts. A possible extension of the state of emergency depends on the dynamics of the situation, Moutafchiiski said. He does not expect the crisis to be contained by the middle of April. Mathematical analyses show that Bulgaria is still at the bottom of the climb to the peak level. The peak can be expected two to three weeks from now, he said. RI/VE //
• (DF) President Vetoes National Emergency Legislation
In a televised address on Sunday, President Rumen Radev announced that he is imposing a partial veto on a national emergency law adopted late on Friday in a bid to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus in Bulgaria. The President said that the lack of resources needed in the battle with COVID-19 in the country is offset by restrictions, which strengthens anxiety and the sense of a crisis among people. He said that the law attacks "the remnants of free speech" and warned that the cap on prices threatens to block business activity and prevent a long-awaited depreciation of the price of energy resources. Also, he said that he shares the understanding that in trying times the Armed Forces should help society but now they are being entrusted with extraordinary powers without consulting the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, the President himself. He also said that the law has measures which have nothing to do with the combat against COVID-19. The lack of adequate measures will bring about a situation where hunger will prevail over fear and the consequences will be destructive, Radev warned. He urged the government to reconsider its policy on the most vulnerable and worst affected people. "No battle is won through fear," he said, adding that the total blockade creates more problems than it solves.
• (NW) Suspension of Projects under Three Cross-border Co-operation Programmes Allowed amid COVID-19 Crisis
Sofia, March 21 (BTA) - Due to the state of emergency in Bulgaria and the measures introduced in its neighbouring countries, the Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, in its capacity as Managing Authority of the Interreg-IPA Cross-border Co-operation Pro...
• (DF) Number of COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reaches 163, Three Recoveries
March 21 (BTA) - The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Bulgaria has reached 163, with 30 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours and three recoveries, Major General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national COVID-19 task force, told a regular briefing on Saturday. To be considered as a recovery, a person needs to test negative for the coronavirus twice in a row, he specified. The three persons who have recovered from COVID-19 will be given a 30-day sick leave and a recommendation to stay at home. During the briefing, Prof. Moutafchiiski showed Bulgarian-made protective helmets to be used by medical teams treating coronavirus infectees. Commenting on publications about varying numbers of COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria, he said that it is possible to have some patients' names duplicated when counting due to the reconfirmation of test samples from one laboratory in another. RI/DS /??/
• (DF) Number of Covid-19 Confirmed Cases Rises to 127
March 20 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Bulgaria has reached 127, 22 up from Thursday, Major General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, who chairs the national coronavirus task force, told a regular briefing here on Friday. The first recovered patient, a woman, will be discharged from the Military Medical Academy on Saturday.
• (DF) Export Banned of Quinine-based Drugs
March 20 (BTA) - Health Minister Kiril Ananiev has ordered a ban on the export of quinine-based medicines until further notice, Ananiev's Ministry said in a press release Friday. The aim is to meet the domestic demand of such medicines in the coronavirus epidemic. The ban was introduced after a meeting of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev, national invasive cardiology consultant Prof. Ivo Petrov and members of the national coronavirus task force. Prof. Petrov briefed the Prime Minister about the positive effects of the anti-malaria drug choloroquine in the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19 and cited Chinese and French studies which suggest that the drug suppresses the coronavirus symptoms and speeds up recovery. Prime Minister Borissov ordered Health Minister Kiril Ananiev to take all steps and supply enough quinine-based drugs. Prime Minister Borissov is in touch with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang in connection with the possibilities for the import of chloroquine from China. RI/ZH,PP
• (NW) Total Hourly Labour Costs Grow By 11.9% Y-Y
March 20 (BTA) - In the fourth quarter of 2019, total hourly labour cost rose by 11.9 per cent year-on-year, showed preliminary data of the National Statistical Institute on Friday. The total hourly labour cost grew by 10.5 per cent in industry, by 11.5 per cent in services and by 14.5 per cent in construction. The breakdown by economic activities showed that the highest annual growths in total labour costs were recorded in real estate (19.6 per cent), other services and education (16.7 per cent). Wages and salaries costs per workhour grew by 11.7per cent in comparison with a year earlier, while the other (non-wage) costs rose by 12.9 per cent. Across economic activities the yearly growth rate of wages and salaries component ranged from 19.3 per cent in real estate to 4 per cent in mining and quarrying. RI/PP /??/
• (DF) Number of Covid-19 Confirmed Cases Rises to 112
March 20 (BTA) - The total number confirmed coronavirus cases in Bulgaria has reached 112, or seven up from Thursday, Major General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, who chairs the national coronavirus task force, told a regular briefing here on Friday. In Sofia 14 coronavirus patients are treated in four different hospitals. The remaining cases are in Varna, Smolyan, Pernik, Plovdiv, Gabrovo, Pleven, Lovech, Blagoevgrad, Bourgas and Lom. Moutafchiiski said that given the size of the population in Sofia, the coronavirus incidence is still not too high, so that more restrictive measures than the currently effective will be mulled if the number of infected people spikes. Moutafchiiski again made a strong warning to elderly people to stay home and not go outside. "A portion of the elderly still fail to grasp the severity of the problem," he said. Moutafchiiski also said that talks are underway with distributors of medicines which the World Health Organization has said to be effective in Covid-19 treatment. Talks are underway as well with Bulgarian pharmaceutical producers. Noting that only 500 out of the 5,000 tests used so far in Bulgaria were paid for by the State, Moutafchiiski thanked businesses and people who donated the rest and more "so that we now have more than 10,000 tests". RI/ZH //
• (DF) Confirmed Coronavirus Cases in Bulgaria Rise to 105
March 19 (BTA) - The total confirmed coronavirus cases have reached 105, Major General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, who chairs the national coronavirus task force, told a regular briefing here on Thursday. The latest confirmed cases are two patients in Plovdiv, two in Smolyan, and seven in Sofia, among them an eight-year-old child. All newly confirmed patients are in stable condition. RY, RI/PP, ZH
• (DF) Non-EU Citizens Banned from Entering Bulgaria
March 19 (BTA) - Health Minister Kiril Ananiev imposed a ban on citizens of non-EU countries entering Bulgaria, the Health Ministry reported on Thursday. The ban will be effective from zero hours on March 20 until April 17. It applies to all non-EU citizens headed for any border checkpoint on any mode of transport: air, sea, rail, or road.
• (DF) Bulgaria Records Third Coronavirus Death, Confirmed Cases Rise to 94
March 19 (BTA) - An 80-year old woman, admitted to Pirogov emergency hospital with a stroke and a coronavirus infection, has died, making her the third victim of the outbreak in Bulgaria,
• (NW) Specialised Prosecution Office Charges Three Sofia Lawyers with Criminal Money Laundering
March 18 (BTA) - The Specialised Prosecution Office has charged three lawyers and an office employee with participating in an organized criminal group involved in money laundering. The prosecutors said that the evidence collected to date shows the group has been operating since 2014. The participants used firms controlled by them and registered under 'front men' in Bulgaria or such in offshore zones with open accounts in Bulgarian banks. People with power of attorney from these companies withdrew or ordered transfers to certain accounts of money acquired by criminal means. On Tuesday, the Specialised Criminal Court left the head of the group behind bars, while the others were released under bail of 150,000 each. The office employee was released under bail of 50,000 leva. Mediapool.bg reports that the alleged group leader is one of the lawyers of fugitive banker Tsvetan Vassilev, Lazar Karadaliev. NV/BR/LN /??/
• (DF) Eleven More Infected with COVID-19, Cases in Bulgaria Reach 92
March 18 (BTA) - Eleven more persons have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in Bulgaria to 92 as at Wednesday afternoon, Major General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national coronavirus task force, told a news briefing. The regional cities of Smolyan (Southern Bulgaria) and Veliko Turnovo (North Central Bulgaria) have recorded their first coronavirus cases, one in each city. Prof. Moutafchiiski also said that Turkey has closed its border with Bulgaria. At an earlier briefing on Wednesday, he said it is early days to say whether or not the measures being taken to prevent the spread of the disease, are producing a result "but the system is managing". He said that the rules for social distancing are being observed and people understand that this is necessary. An entire skiing resort, Bansko has been put under lockdown and nobody is allowed to enter or leave. Prof. Moutafchiiski believes there is no need to do the same with other settlements. He said that Bulgaria does not have capacity to do wide-scale testing for coronavirus and specified that the reason for that is the lack of qualified personnel to do that. He also commented a crisis at Sofia's Second City Hospital which has been designated as a backup facility for treating COVID-19 patients and where the medical staff threatened to resign due to the lack of preparedness of the hospital. He said they have no reason to resign. "I am sure they have treated hundreds of even thousands of patients with similar symptoms," he commented. Prof. Moutafchiiski also showed new protective coveralls that are made in Bulgaria and are up to the standards for the novel coronavirus. They are for multiple use and can be used after up to 50 washes. They will be produced in sufficient quantities to meet all domestic demand. RY, RI/LN, DS
• (DF) Bulgarian Prime Minister Discusses Coronavirus Outbreak with Chinese Premier by Telephone
March 18 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had a telephone conversation with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, the Bulgarian government press service reported. The two leaders discussed their countries' efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Prime Minister Borissov congratulated China on its effective measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. For his part, Premier Li thanked Borissov for his support and empathy at the most difficult moment of the coronavirus crisis in China. Li expressed China's willingness to donate masks, goggles, gloves and other protective gear to Bulgaria. Beijing also plans to deliver such supplies under a European Commission scheme, and Bulgaria can benefit from it as an EU member state, he said. He pledged to assist Bulgaria in contacting Chinese manufacturers of protective equipment and ventilators, so that Bulgaria can buy such products through the agency of the two governments' ministries of economy and trade. Borissov thanked Li and the Chinese government for their donation initiative and for a past donation of 12,000 disposable masks and 2,000 special masks provided to Bulgaria by the government of China's Jiangxi Province and the China-Europe Association for Technical and Economic Cooperation. Furthermore, Prime Minister Borissov thanked for the Chinese authorities' assistance in evacuating two Bulgarians from the city of Wuhan on a French flight in early February and for the care extended to a Bulgarian university student who is still in Wuhan. Premier Li expressed his confidence that the Bulgarian authorities will look after the Chinese citizens and students in Bulgaria. Borissov responded by saying that each of the two countries ought to look after the other country's citizens staying in its own territory. The two leaders underscored the friendly relations between Bulgaria and China. RY/VE //
• (DF) President Radev: Efforts against COVID-19 Produce Results, Bulgaria Has Fairly Low Spread Curve
March 18 (BTA) - The efforts against the novel coronavirus are having an effect and the spread curve in Bulgaria remains fairly low, at least at this stage, President Rumen Radev said here Wednesday. He was speaking at a meeting with government officials held in his office to discuss the measures this country is taking against COVID-19 Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the head of the national coronavirus task force, Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, were at the meeting.
• (DF) No New COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria, A Third of Patients Have Pneumonia
March 18 (BTA) - No new cases of the novel coronavirus have been registered in Bulgaria between late on Tuesday and Wednesday, the head of the national COVID-19 task force, Gen. Ventislav Moutafshiiski told the morning news briefing. One-third of patients have pneumonia but their condition is under good control. He said it is early days to say whether or not the measures being taken to prevent the spread of the disease, are producing a result "but the system is managing". He also commented a crisis at Sofia's Second City Hospital which has been designated as a backup facility for treating COVID-19 patients and where the medical staff threatened to resign due to the lack of preparedness of the hospital. He said they have no reason to resign. "I am sure they have treated hundreds of even thousands of patients with similar symptoms," he commented. The general also showed new protective coveralls that are made in Bulgaria and are up to the standards for the novel coronavirus. They are for multiple use and can be used after up to 50 washes. They will be produced in sufficient quantities to meet all domestic demand. RI/LN/ //
• (DF) Coronavirus Cases in Bulgaria Reach 81, Bansko Ski Resort Locked Down
March 17 (BTA) - The number of patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection in Bulgaria has already reached 81, coronavirus task force chief Maj. Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said at his regular afternoon news briefing on Tuesday. There are more zones of infection throughout the country, including a patient in the town of Lovech and two in Pernik. Other than that, the cases are mainly concentrated in Sofia, as well as Pleven and Gabrovo. There is a patient under observation in Lom. Two cases have also been confirmed in Blagoevgrad. At an extraordinary news briefing in the evening, Moutafchiiski announced a total lockdown of the mountain resort town of Bansko in Southwestern Bulgaria, effective 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The measure will be in place for two weeks. Inside Bansko, people are barred off the streets, except when it is absolutely necessary to go to a grocer's shop, a healthcare facility, a pharmacy, a bank office, an insurance company office or a filling station. The restrictions do not apply to trucks carrying food products, water and electricity company employees, health inspectors, police officers, firefighters and medical workers who provide emergency treatment not available in the town. The 10,000-population town is one of Bulgaria's popular winter resorts. It has a medical centre and five general practitioners. Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said there are about 200 foreign tourists in Bansko. She said: "We contacted the embassies of the respective countries. The foreign tourists will be able to leave the town within 24 hours. Those who stay behind will be quarantined and will have to comply with all restrictions. The tourists are not many; some of the Britons are already leaving. Israeli tourists left the town yesterday and today. If the few remaining tourists also choose to leave, we will provide controlled transportation to the airport [in Sofia]." At the afternoon briefing it emerged that patients diagnosed in Bulgaria on Tuesday show moderate symptoms and are not in serious condition. The condition of the initial coronavirus patients is improving. The President of the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union (BPU), Prof. Asena Stoimenova, said that the BPU and the coronavirus task force have discussed possibilities for optimizing the medicine supply process, as well as for inspections of pharmacies, which would not interfere with their work. The measures are yet to be discussed in detail at the Ministry of Health. Eighty-five staff members at Sofia's City Hospital No. 2 have tendered their resignations. The hospital is being transformed into an infectious-disease-only facility where coronavirus patients will be admitted. The head of the hospital's intensive care ward, Dr Georgi Todorov, told bTV that for two weeks there has been no information about the fate of the hospital and its patients. According to him, the hospital does not have enough qualified specialists to treat patients with acute respiratory failure, and no equipment and protective clothing either. Dr Todorov said that the majority of doctors are either of pre-retirement or retirement age and are concerned about their safety while working with coronavirus patients. On Tuesday morning the medics met with representatives of the Bulgarian Medical Association. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, who also visited the hospital, told bTV that no coronavirus patients will be admitted until the hospital has the necessary equipment and staff. It emerged later in the day that City Hospital No. 2 would dedicate one ward for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. Several hundred workers at the Yazaki plant between Haskovo and Dimitrovgrad refused to check in for work and declared a strike because of the allegedly poor hygiene which creates a risk of COVID-19 infections and the management's refusal to allow workers to take leave. Department head Delcho Zhelev said that all precautions have been taken and that a decision of the senior management in Japan is pending. On Monday a large order for protective masks was made and they are expected to arrive on Tuesday. The authorities carried out inspections on site and found disinfectants, a filter at the entry and enough space between assembly line stations. PP/DD/DT/VE
• (DF) Health Minister Issues Order Concerning Persons Subject to Compulsory Quarantine
March 17 (BTA) - Health Minister Kiril Ananiev Tuesday issued an order concerning the persons subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine and the way the authorities will exercise control over that quarantine, the Health Ministry said Tuesday. Following are key texts of the Health Minister's order. Subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine at home or another accommodation as stated upon their entry in Bulgaria, are all Bulgarian and foreign nationals and their family members who reside permanently or long-term in Bulgaria and are arriving in this country from China, Iran, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Spain, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Drivers of heavy-duty trucks who are nationals of or arriving from one of the above-mentioned countries, must unload their cargo and leave Bulgaria immediately, without spending more than 24 hours in transit. The health of foreign nationals quarantined in Bulgaria is monitored by the medical treatment facility with which their place of accommodation has a contract for provision of medical care. All close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case are placed under quarantine at home or another accommodation and under medical observation for a 14-day period, as of the date of their last contact with the infected person. All quarantined persons are obliged to remain at home or at the place they have told the authorities they will be staying. Should symptoms of COVID-19 occur, the quarantined persons must contact by phone their general practitioner, the medical treatment facility servicing their accommodation, or the corresponding regional health inspectorate so as to receive relevant instructions. Should symptoms of COVID-19 not occur, the quarantine is lifted upon the expiration of the 14-day period. RY/DS /??/
• (DF) New Pipeline to Pernik Is Completed
March 17 (BTA) - A 13.5-km pipeline from the village of Malo Buchino to the city of Pernik has been completed, said the local water utility. The pipeline is being tested. Afterwards it will be disinfected and within days water will begin to be pumped through it.
• (DF) 62 Coronavirus Patients in Bulgaria, People Tend to Comply with Restrictions
March 16 (BTA) - With the new coronavirus patients confirmed on Monday, the total count reached 62 in Bulgaria, the head of the national COVID-19 task force told a regular news briefing. There is a clear trend of Bulgarians following the recommendations and the orders issued by the authorities: people tend to stay at home, avoid walking around, and do only a partial version of their most essential daily routines, he said.
• (DF) February Inflation at 0.1%
March 16 (BTA) - Inflation in Bulgaria in February 2020 against January 2020 was 0.1 per cent, the National Statistical Institute reported on Monday.
• (NW) 2019 Jobless Rate Down 1pp on 2108 to 4.2%
March 16 (BTA) - In 2019, Bulgaria had 142,000 unemployed persons, of whom 82,300 were men and 60,500 were women, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) said. Compared to 2018, the jobless total decreased by 17.6 per cent. At 4.2 per cent, the jobless rate in 2019 was down by 1 percentage point (pp) compared to 2018. The unemployment rate decreased for both sexes: by 1.2 pp to 4.5 per cent for men and by 0.8 pp to 3.9 per cent for women. In 2019, the economically active population aged 15-64 totalled 3,276,400 people, 73.2 per cent of the population in that age group. There were 3,233,100 employed persons, who accounted for 54.2 per cent of people aged 15 or over. The employment rate for people aged 20-64 stood at 75 per cent, up by 2.6 pp on 2018. The employment rate for this age group increased for both sexes: by 2.8 pp to 79.3 per cent for men and by 2.4 pp to 70.7 per cent for women. The long-term unemployed persons (out of work for one or more years) were 81,000, 56.7 per cent of all people without jobs. The long-term unemployment rate was 2.4 per cent (2.6 per cent for men and 2.2 per cent for women). The economic inactivity rate in the 15-64 age group was 26.8 per cent (22.4 per cent for men and 31.3 per cent for women). The proportion of people aged 15-29 who were neither in employment nor in education and training was 16.7 per cent, down from 18.1 per cent in 2018. DD //
• (DF) Coronavirus Task Force Chief Says Bulgarians Tend to Follow Recommendations
March 16 (BTA) - There is a clear trend of Bulgarians following the recommendations and the orders issued by the authorities in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak, national coronavirus task force chief Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said at his regular morning news briefing on Monday. He said people tend to stay at home, avoid walking around, and do only a partial version of their most essential daily routines. A nine-year-old child who is a foreign national tested positive for COVID-19, Moutafchiiski said. The kid's uncle, who is also in Bulgaria, was exposed to the infection before coming to this country together with his COVID-19-infected sister. According to Blagoevgrad Regional Health Inspectorate chief Kaloyan Kaloyanov, the boy is in a group of British tourists staying at the Bansko winter resort. Bansko Mayor Ivan Kadiev convened the local coronavirus task force to consider measures. Moutafchiiski commented: "This is the big problem with Bulgarian tourist companies and hotels: they receive irresponsible visitors in a bid to keep the business going." He warned that ski resorts are becoming vulnerable to the disease. This is due to the fact that the nasopharynx overcools in a colder environment and becomes prone to the infection. Moutafchiiski noted that some people who stay at home are easily panicked. He identified several types of quarantine associated with COVID The first type is for all those who correspond to the epidemiological profile, including people who have just travelled to vulnerable countries. If they show symptoms of the disease, they can call their personal physician on the phone to receive instructions about how to get tested. The second type are people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, but have only mild complaints and do not need hospital treatment. They should be quarantined at home for at least 21 days, not 14 as some people think, after which they should be tested to see whether they have been cured. The third type are patients who have been diagnosed with the disease and have been hospitalized with a clinical picture of medium seriousness. In Bulgaria, it is still possible to provide hospital treatment for COVID-19-related conditions of medium seriousness, but internationally, only the most serious cases are treated in hospital - those who need intensive care, Moutafchiiski said. The Education and Science Ministry said that the period until March 29 is off-school. Remote electronic learning platforms are coming increasingly into use to replace physical school attendance. RI/VE //
• (DF) State to Provide Additional 1,000 Lv a Month to All Medical Staff Working with Coronavirus Patients
March 15 (BTA) - After a meeting with President Rumen Radev, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the State will award an additional 1,000 leva a month to all medical staff working with coronavirus patients. The meeting was also attended by National Operations Headquarters Chief Major General Prof. Ventsislav MutafchiiskI.
• (DF) Second Coronavirus Patient Dies in Bulgaria
March 14 (BTA) - A second patient diagnosed with COVID-19 died in Bulgaria on Saturday morning, the Health Ministry said. The 74-year-old man was admitted to Sofia's Pirogov Emergency Hospital on March 8 together with his 66-year-old wife. Both tested positive for the coronavirus. The woman succumbed to the virus on March 10. The man had severe chronic lung problems, while the woman had a record of heart issues and had undergone heart surgery.
• (DF) Second Coronavirus Patient Dies in Bulgaria
March 14 (BTA) - A second patient diagnosed with COVID-19 died in Bulgaria on Saturday morning, the Health Ministry said. The 74-year-old man was admitted to Sofia's Pirogov Emergency Hospital on March 8 together with his 66-year-old wife. Both tested positive for the coronavirus. The woman succumbed to the virus on March 10. The man had severe chronic lung problems, while the woman had a record of heart issues and had undergone heart surgery.
• (DF) Second CoronavirusPatient Dies in Bulgaria
March 14 (BTA) - A second patient diagnosed with COVID-19 died in Bulgaria on Saturday morning, the Health Ministry said. The 74-year-old man was admitted to Sofia's Pirogov Emergency Hospital on March 8 together with his 66-year-old wife. Both tested positive for the coronavirus. The woman succumbed to the virus on March 10. The man had severe chronic lung problems, while the woman had a record of heart issues and had undergone heart surgery.
• (DF) Bulgaria Declares State of Emergency, New Tougher Restrictions Set in Place as COVID-19 Precaution
March 13 (BTA) - The Health Minister issued new tougher restrictions as a COVID-19 precaution which are valid until March 29. New restrictions All visits to eateries, entertainment establishments, including bars and night clubs will be banned as well be visits to retail outlets and shopping centres except for food stores, pharmacies and drug stores. Schools, universities and other educational establishments and organizations will be closed. On-line teaching will replace regular classes where possible. Daycare and creches will be closed, as well as all forms of group work with children. All gatherings of people, including sport, cultural and other events are banned and cinemas, theatres, opera houses, museums, conferences, workshops, spa-centres, gyms, etc., will be closed down. All employers are required to do their best to introduce work from home. Where that is impossible, they should tighten the hygiene measures in the work spaces. All non-emergency visits to medical offices for infants and pregnant women are suspended, as well as regular medical checkups and non-emergency surgery, including organ transplants. Visiting patients in hospitals will be banned. The duration and scope of the measures may be adjusted depending on the epidemiological situation in the country. Prof Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the coronavirus task force, said the only effective measures are those taken by China and recommended by the World Health Organisation - social distancing and self-isolation. "We have urged people returning from high-risk destinations to act responsibly and conscientiously, but we have seen cases of a massive failure to comply with home quarantine. One of the causes of the spread of the epidemic in Bulgaria is a party attended by 24 people, of whom 11 have tested positive." Moutafchiiski added that passenger traffic through the border checkpoints has halved. Foreign travel restrictions The Foreign Ministry urges Bulgarians to avoid inessential travel. Also, it has upgraded the travel advisory for some countries: Iran to level 5 (do not travel and leave country immediately); South Korea and Spain to level 4 (do not travel except essential travel); France, Germany and Japan to level 3 (reconsider travel); and Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and the US to level 2 (excersize increased caution). The travel advisory levels remain unchanged at level 5 for China and level 4 for Italy. Sofia's schools will remain closed until March 22 (flu break extended from March 16). All eateries, as well as gambling and entertainment establishments, including bars, will be closed down until March 29. The administration of the Muslim denomination in Bulgaria said that it is suspending lectures and theological training in mosques as a COVID-19 precaution. It also circulated theological guidance for preventing coronavirus infection, quoting excerpts of the Quran advising quarantine in the event of an epidemic. The leadership of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church said earlier this week that it is not going to change the Easter routines despite the COVID-19 restrictions. LN/ //
• (NW) American Experts Suggest Alternative Uses for Maritsa East Mines Coal
March 13 (BTA) - Experts from the US Department of Energy have suggested alternative uses for coal from the Maritsa East Mines, Bulgaria's largest state-owned coal mining company said on Friday. The experts provided information on R&D concerning coal-based energy systems and carbon capture and storage systems. The meeting in Radnevo, Stara Zagora Region, was hosted by Stelian Koev, the company's Director of Economy and Finances, and the managers of the three mines. The US delegation consisted of Angelos Kokkinos, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal and Carbon Management Office of Fossil Energy at the Department of Energy, James Adams of the US State Department and Energy Advisor Stratos Tavoulareas. They were accompanied by staff members of the US Mission to Bulgaria. The Bulgarian and American experts concurred on the possibility of partnership for keeping the thermal power plants in Bulgaria in operation. Earlier this week the experts met with Energy Minister Temenouzhka Petkova and her team in Sofia to discuss ways to improve air quality in Bulgaria by using new technology. The meetings in Sofia and Radnevo are part of the high-level Strategic Dialogue, a forum for consultation and cooperation on global, regional, and bilateral issues of mutual interest to both countries. RY/DD
• (DF) Tourist Sector Asks Government to Prepare One-Year Survival Programme for Saving Tourism, Transport
March 13 (BTA) - The tourist sector calls on the government to prepare a one-year survival programme for tourist and transport businesses, which are the two sectors most affected by the spreading coronavirus. The Executive Director of the National Tourism Board, Poli Karastoyanova, told a news conference that they ask the Prime Minister to form a national economic task force with the participation of all competent ministers, to prepare the programme. It transpired at the news conference that data from March 11 show a 75 per cent decline of sales of tourist services and over 90 per cent cancellation of events. 60 per cent of the companies in the sector are shedding jobs. Hotels and restaurants are seeing their turnovers nosedive by over 70 per cent and bookings cancelled by 80 per cent. The situation is dynamic and the figures are sure to get worse by the day, said Karastoyanova. The tourist businesses also asks the government to cover the cost for social insurance payable by their employers and themselves for a year, and allow an interest-free deferred payment of VAT, local taxes and waste tax. Furthermore, they insist that no less than 200 million leva be made available by the Bulgarian Development Bank for refinancing loans taken out by tourist companies and allow use of EU funding to support the tourist sector. NV/LN/
• (DF) Bulgaria Declares State of Emergency over COVID-19
The Bulgarian Parliament voted unanimously 201 in favour to declare a nationwide state of emergencyover COVID-19 between March 13 and April 13. The proposal was made by the Council of Ministers after the country reached 23 cases of the coronavirus, with one death. This will allow the government to close schools and universities and ban public events. A ban may be imposed on travel to certain countries, and people from countries with a high rate of COVID-19 infections will be prevented from entering the country.
• (DF) Government Proposes Nationwide State of Emergency in Response to COVID-19
March 13 (BTA) - Emerging from an extraordinary government meeting in the early hours of Friday, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the government will propose to Parliament to declare a nationwide state of emergency due to the increasing cases of coronavirus infections in the country.
• (DF) Bulgarian Prime Minister and Russian President Discuss Coronavirus, Energy and Syria Conflict by Telephone
March 12 (BTA) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the coronavirus outbreak, the situation in Syria and energy projects during a telephone conversation on Thursday, the Bulgarian government press service reported. Borissov enquired about the possibility for Bulgaria to buy ventilators from Russia. This kind of device is extremely important in the current battle against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. It was noted during the conversation that Russian scientists are working hard to develop a vaccine against the infection. The two leaders discussed the spread COVID-19. Borissov outlined the measures taken by his country to deal with the outbreak. He said: "Bulgarian industry was reorganized in a matter of days to produce and supply the necessary protective clothing for the medical teams across the country. We are applying all measures approved by the international medical community to curb the disease." Discussing energy projects, Borissov updated Putin on the progress in building the Balkan Stream natural gas pipeline, which, he said, will cement Bulgaria's key role in gas transportation in Europe for decades to come. The Bulgarian Prime Minister said: "We have an interest in continuing our cooperation with Russia in the field of natural gas while strictly observing European rules in order to ensure the security of gas supplies to Bulgaria and the region." He welcomed the agreement between Gazprom Export and Bulgargaz to cut the price of Russian gas for Bulgaria by 40.3 per cent following a decision by the European Commission. President Putin greeted Prime Minister Borissov on the occasion of Bulgaria National Day, March 3. RY/VE
• (DF) New COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria, New Border Crossing Restrictions Introduced
March 12 (BTA) - Nine new people tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon, thus bringing to 16 the confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Bulgaria, the national coronavirus task force said Thursday. All of the new cases are in Sofia. The fast spread of the disease across Europe has prompted many countries to take urgent measures, including border crossing changes and travel restrictions, some of which are in neighbouring countries. A 74 year-old man, who was admitted to Sofia's Pirogov Emergency Hospital Tuesday together with his wife, is in critical condition. His wife passed away on Wednesday, becoming the first fatality of the disease in Bulgaria. During a visit to the northern city of Pleven, President Rumen Radev said that without doubt Bulgaria is facing a serious social and economic challenge. "We have the capacity and strength to overcome this with everyone's efforts and solidarity," the head of State said. He stressed the importance of not interrupting production activity. At the same time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was in Gabrovo, northern Bulgaria, where a textiles company has just started producing protective wear for medical personnel. He was shown the production process and the first 40,000 m of fabric that has polled off the production line. "The purpose of all this we are doing is to show Bulgarian people that our industry can restructure itself in a matter of days and start producing what we need," said Borissov. The Gabrovo factory will produce between 12,000 and 14,000 protective coveralls. Once again, the Prime Minister urged people not to give in to panic. He spoke about the importance of having enough ventilators. A government press release said that Bulgaria has 2,063 hospital beds for intensive care. Hospitals have 1,463 ventilators with another 142 in outpatient establishments, 289 in ambulances and 53 in emergency rooms. The coronavirus task force has ordered 200. New changes, restrictions in Bulgaria over COVID-19 Starting Thursday, Sofia's' 2nd City Hospital is being transformed into a temporary infectious disease hospital. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said that the other hospitals that have dedicated infectious disease wards continue to work as usual. Sofia's Military Medical Academy, Pirogov Emergency Hospital and Alexandrovska Hospital, which are the capital's biggest hospitals, will continue to admit the most serious COVID-19 cases. The Sofia Municipality has taken a series of measures, including frequent disinfection of public transport vehicles and the underground metro stations. The sale of tickets inside buses, trolleybuses, etc. is suspended. Education and Science Minister Krasimir Valchev ordered an extension of the flu break in schools declared in response to a type B flu epidemic. Schools will remain closed until March 16 in the regions of Sofia, Lovech, Rousse, Stara Zagora and Yambol. Schools are also shut down in a number of municipalities in other regions across the country on decisions of the local governments. Border crossing changes, restrictions in neighbouring countries Traffic is temporarily suspended for people and vehicles through the Oltomantsi, Strazimirovtsi and Bregovo checkpoints on the border with Serbia and all traffic to and from Serbia is re-directed to the Kalotina and Vrashka Chouka border crossings. Serbia has temporarily banned foreigners arriving from Italy, China, South Korea, Iran and Switzerland. The ban is valid for all travellers, including those transiting. Travellers arriving from high-risk destinations to North Macedonia will only be allowed to cross into the country through the Gyueshevo and Deve Bair border crossings. There is heavy traffic of trucks at the Vidin-Danibe Bridge and Kardam border checkpoints on the Bulgarian-Romanian border. Foreign nationals, including Bulgarians, who are travelling to Romania from Italy, China, Iran and South Korea, will be quarantined for 14 days regardless of their means of transport. Cargo trucks exceeding 3.5 tonnes in weight are exempt from the traffic restrictions. The measures and restrictions will be applied to river and maritime transport as well. The Bulgarian Embassy in Croatia informed about a new measure introduced by the Croatian authorities regarding trucks transiting its territory. At least 14 days must have elapsed from when truck drivers entering Croatia from Serbia have left Italy. Otherwise, drivers will be quarantined depending on how many days have passed from when last exited Italy. RY/ZH
• (DF) No New COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria, New Border Crossing Restrictions Introduced
March 12 (BTA) - The confirmed novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases remain seven in Bulgaria, the national coronavirus task force said Thursday. The fast spread of the disease across Europe has prompted many countries to take urgent measures, including border crossing changes and travel restrictions, some of which are in neighbouring countries. A 74 year-old man, who was admitted to Sofia's Pirogov Emergency Hospital Tuesday together with his wife, is in critical condition. His wife passed away on Wednesday, becoming the first fatality of the disease in Bulgaria. During a visit to the northern city of Pleven, President Rumen Radev said that without doubt Bulgaria is facing a serious social and economic challenge. "We have the capacity and strength to overcome this with everyone's efforts and solidarity," the head of State said. He stressed the importance of not interrupting production activity. At the same time Prime Minister Boyko Borissov was in Gabrovo, northern Bulgaria, where a textiles company has just started producing protective wear for medical personnel. He was shown the production process and the first 40,000 m of fabric that has polled off the production line. "The purpose of all this we are doing is to show Bulgarian people that our industry can restructure itself in a matter of days and start producing what we need," said Borissov. The Gabrovo factory will produce between 12,000 and 14,000 protective coveralls. Once again, the Prime Minister urged people not to give in to panic. He spoke about the importance of having enough ventilators. A government press release said that Bulgaria has 2,063 hospital beds for intensive care. Hospitals have 1,463 ventilators with another 142 in outpatient establishments, 289 in ambulances and 53 in emergency rooms. The coronavirus task force has ordered 200. New changes, restrictions in Bulgaria over COVID-19 Starting Thursday, Sofia's' 2nd City Hospital is being transformed into a temporary infectious disease hospital. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said that the other hospitals that have dedicated infectious disease wards continue to work as usual. Sofia's Military Medical Academy, Pirogov Emergency Hospital and Alexandrovska Hospital, which are the capital's biggest hospitals, will continue to admit the most serious COVID-19 cases. The Sofia Municipality has taken a series of measures, including frequent disinfection of public transport vehicles and the underground metro stations. The sale of tickets inside buses, trolleybuses, etc. is suspended. Education and Science Minister Krasimir Valchev ordered an extension of the flu break in schools declared in response to a type B flu epidemic. Schools will remain closed until March 16 in the regions of Sofia, Lovech, Rousse, Stara Zagora and Yambol. Schools are also shut down in a number of municipalities in other regions across the country on decisions of the local governments. Border crossing changes, restrictions in neighbouring countries Traffic is temporarily suspended for people and vehicles through the Oltomantsi, Strazimirovtsi and Bregovo checkpoints on the border with Serbia and all traffic to and from Serbia is re-directed to the Kalotina and Vrashka Chouka border crossings. Serbia has temporarily banned foreigners arriving from Italy, China, South Korea, Iran and Switzerland. The ban is valid for all travellers, including those transiting. Travellers arriving from high-risk destinations to North Macedonia will only be allowed to cross into the country through the Gyueshevo and Deve Bair border crossings. There is heavy traffic of trucks at the Vidin-Danibe Bridge and Kardam border checkpoints on the Bulgarian-Romanian border. Foreign nationals, including Bulgarians, who are travelling to Romania from Italy, China, Iran and South Korea, will be quarantined for 14 days regardless of their means of transport. Cargo trucks exceeding 3.5 tonnes in weight are exempt from the traffic restrictions. The measures and restrictions will be applied to river and maritime transport as well. LN/MY // .//
• (NW) Bulgaria's 2019 Exports to EU Up 2.9 Per Cent,Year on Year, Exports to Third Countries Grow 2.2 Per Cent in January 2020, Month on Month
March 12 (BTA) - In 2019, Bulgarian exports to the EU grew by 2.9 per cent in comparison with 2018 and amounted to 38,779.5 million leva, according to preliminary data released by the National Statistical Institute on Thursday. Bulgaria's main trading partners in this group were Germany, Romania, Italy, Greece, France and Belgium, which accounted for 66.5 per cent of exports to the EU Member States. In December 2019, exports to the EU dropped by 4.7 per cent from the comparable month of the previous year and amounted to 2,548.4 million leva. In 2019, Bulgarian imports from the EU increased by 3.1 per cent from 2018 and reached 41,143.0 million leva. The largest amounts were reported for goods imported from Germany, Italy, Romania, Greece and Spain. In December 2019, Bulgarian imports from the EU Member States increased by 4.6 per cent compared to December 2018 and amounted to 3,206.5 million leva. In 2019, Bulgaria ran a 2,363.5 million leva deficit with the EU (export FOB - import CIF). In January 2020, the exports of goods from Bulgaria to third countries increased by 2.2 per cent from the same month of 2019 and added up to 1,581.5 million leva. Bulgaria's main trading partners were Turkey, China, the US, Serbia, North Macedonia and Russia, which accounted for 53.5 per cent of exports to non-EU countries. The imports of goods to Bulgaria from third countries in January 2020 increased by 5.4 per cent from January 2019 and added up to 2,158.2 million leva (at CIF prices). The largest amounts were reported for goods imported from Russia, Turkey, China and Egypt. In January 2020, Bulgaria ran a 576.7 million leva deficit with third countries (export FOB - import CIF). In January 2020, the value of goods exported from Bulgaria totaled 4,896.1 million leva, 3.7 per cent up from January 2019. The value of goods imported into Bulgaria in January 2020 totalled 5,297.6 million leva (at CIF prices), or 4.9 per cent up from January 2019. In January 2020, the total foreign trade balance (exports FOB - import CIF) was negative and amounted to 401.5 million leva. NV/LG //
• (DF) Central Election Commission Puts Forward Ideas for Changes in Election Rules
March 12 (BTA) - The Central Election Commission (CEC) has put forward to the legislature ideas for election rule changes, including dropping the restrictions on the announcement of exit poll results, regulations for machine voting, setting a date for elections three months earlier, etc . This transpires from a 24 Chassa interview with CEC Chair Stefka Stoeva on Thursday. The proposals are based on analyses of the 2019 elections for European Parliament and for local government in Bulgaria. Stoeva says that the CEC will be able to roll out machine voting but the precise rules for that need to be formulated in the election code. She notes that at this stage there are a number of unresolved issues related to the acquisition, delivery, installation, storage and maintenance of voting machines. In addition, the Electoral Code, which has close to 500 provisions, is almost entirely intended for paper balloting. Therefore, the CEC chairman recommends that a new legal framework for machine voting be set out, which should be clearly outlined in the Electoral Code. Stoeva also argues that government bodes need to be assigned to oversee voting machine certification such as the State Agency for Metrological and Technical Supervision, the State Agency for Electronic Control, SANS and others. According to its current organization, machine voting is applicable only to voting sections with more than 300 voters. It is not intended for voting abroad, in old people's homes, hospitals, prisons, etc. If the current version is maintained, machine voting will encompass approximately 9500 sections, Stoeva explained. Machine voting was held for the first time in Bulgaria in 3,000 sections nationwide at the 2019 European Parliament elections. Only about 159,000 voters, or 7.59 per cent, voted by machine, and over 92 per cent did not. Therefore, the CEC recommends that the paper ballots not be dropped. Additionally, the CEC chairman argues that due to time constraints for organizing and holding elections, the exact date should be scheduled at least 3 months before election day and the time between the first and second rounds of elections should be increased. Another issue that the election commission wants to address is the announcement of exit poll results on election day in the media. Stoeva reports that during the first round of the 2019 local government elections the CEC received about 30 signals for violating the ban on publicizing election results. This indicates that the ban is being massively violated, which casts doubt on its practicality. In addition, most results compiled by sociological agencies are published directly to social media and cannot be controlled by the CEC. This leads to an unequal situation between different media. Therefore, according to Stoeva, it is necessary that new technologies also be subject to regulation. The CEC also has recommendations for improving electoral legislation relating to ballots and section protocols. The CEC estimates that some of the ballots are invalid because of Election Code provisions of which confuse voters. In addition, voting protocols are long and difficult to complete precisely because they require data which has nothing to do and is irrelevant to the election result, such as invalid party votes, so the CEC recommends that they be dropped entirely. NV/DT
• (DF) Bulgaria Reports First Coronavirus Death
March 11 (BTA) - Bulgaria reported its first COVID-19 fatality. A 66-year-old woman succumbed to the virus in Sofia on Wednesday a day after she was admitted to the Pirogov Emergency Hospital in an extremely serious conditions and tested positive for the infection, the Health Ministry said in a press release. The patient had a record of heart problems and had undergone heart surgery.
• (NW) Assets Managed by Insurance Companies Stood at Nearly Lv 8.5 Mln at End-2019
March 11 (BTA) - Assets managed by insurance companies operating in Bulgaria, amounted to 8.476 billion leva as of the end of December 2019, the Bulgarian National Bank said on Wednesday. They increased by 831.6 million leva (10.9 per cent) compared to the end of December 2018. Assets of life insurance companies increased by 327.2 million leva (15.2 per cent) from 2.153 billion leva as of the end of December 2018 to 2.480 billion leva at the end of the same month of 2019. Assets managed by general insurance companies increased by 504.3 million leva (9.2 per cent) from 5.492 billion leva as of the end of December 2018 to 5.997 billion leva at the end of the same month of 2019. RY/PP //
• (DF) Berlin Process Foreign Ministers Convene in Skopje about Western Balkans
March 11 (BTA) - Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva and her counterpart of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov hosted in Skopje the meeting of the foreign ministers of the Berlin Process concerning the Western Balkans. After the meeting, Foreign Minister Zaharieva said that this first joint presidency of Bulgaria and North Macedonia is a sign that an EU member state and an EU candidate can work together for the good of the region. Foreign Minister of the Technical Government of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov said that the joint presidency will win greater trust in the region of the Western Balkans, and that it boosts the confidence of the Western Balkans, demonstrating that two neighbouring countries can do it. The joint presidency is also important for the bilateral relations. It is an additional tool that can be used to solve the other important issues between the two countries, according to Dimitrov. The priorities of the joint presidency of Bulgaria and North Macedonia include further development of the cooperation in the Western Balkans, improving all types of connectivity: transport, energy, digital, interpersonal; integrating young people, developing education and protecting the environment. Within the framework of the meeting, the six countries of the Western Balkans: North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina signed a joint statement, confirming their resolve to become full-fledged members of the European family and to implement the necessary reforms to that end. RI/MT /??/
• (DF) Coronavirus: Latest Developments in Bulgaria
March 11 (BTA) - Speaking at a briefing on Wednesday morning, the Military Medical Academy (MMA) Chief, Major General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national coronavirus task force, said that as of Tuesday evening, Bulgaria has six patients with confirmed coronavirus diagnoses: two each in Gabrovo, Pleven and Sofia. Testings for the infection continue. Moutafchiiski said that the hospitals will continue to work but some of the wards will be transformed into facilities to take on new COVID-19 cases. The first shipment of protective clothing from Turkey has arrived in Bulgaria and is to be distributed among medical staff nationwide. Moutafchiiski said that new shipments are expected, adding that all medical staff will be protected. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova told a separate briefing that the Sofia City Hall expects to hear the latest measures to contain the coronavirus spread of the national task force. Fandakova said the authorities are following the instructions of the national task force. Meanwhile, disinfection continues in the capital's public transport. Other measures are in place as well. RI/ZH//
• (DF) Number of Coronavirus Cases in Bulgaria Rises to Six as Two More Patients Are Confirmed
March 10 (BTA) - Two more coronavirus cases were confirmed in Bulgaria on Tuesday. The new patients are in the capital Sofia. They were checked into the Pirogov Emergency Hospital, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said in a statement to the media shortly after taking part in a European Council videoconference on responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. This brings the total number of coronavirus cases in Bulgaria to six. The first four were reported in the northern towns of Pleven and Gabrovo (two each). During the videoconference of the EU leaders, it transpired that the member states are unanimously opposed to banning the export of medical equipment. Major European suppliers will be given 25 billion euro as an incentive to make additional equipment. Earlier in the day, the Military Medical Academy (MMA) Chief, Major General Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski MD, who heads the national coronavirus task force, told the task force's regular news briefing that all 46 new samples analyzed at the MMA on Tuesday have tested negative. Another 56 samples have yet to be tested. The eight samples from Pleven (North Central Bulgaria) and Gabrovo (Central Bulgaria) that were re-analysed as inconclusive at the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases in Sofia have tested negative for COVID-19, the MMA said in a press release on Tuesday. Asked for comment on the effort to contain the infection, President Radev said in Graf Ignatievo on Tuesday that it requires pooling the efforts of all institutions and of the public. In his opinion, yielding to panic and fear poses the greater risk. He advised against letting the economy collapse. *** During the period March 12-23, the flights of Wizz Air from Vienna, Sofia and Varna, Budapest and Debrecen, Riga, Vilnius, Katowice, Krakow and Warsaw, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Sibiu and Timisoara, London Luton to Tel Aviv and Eilat will be cancelled, the carrier informed on Tuesday. Passengers who have booked their flights are informed well in advance and redirected via alternative routes. *** By order of Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, as of March 9, Prosecution office reception rooms will not be accessible to the general public. The measure aims to prevent the further spreading of the coronavirus epidemic. *** Court sessions on current cases all over Bulgaria will be suspended for a month because of the coronavirus, as decided by the Supreme Judicial Council. Court sessions will only take place on urgent cases or behind closed doors. The president judge of every court will decide whether or not to extend the preventive measure. General court sessions for annual reports will also be suspended, as well as seminars, training sessions and examinations within the Judiciary. Access to all court buildings will be limited. *** The Ministry of Foreign Affairs upped the risk index of travelling to Italy to level 4: a warning to cancel trips over the entire country (unless highly urgent), the ministry press service informed on Tuesday. *** In view of the epidemic situation in Bulgaria, the National Social Security Institute advises its clients to refrain from personal visits to its offices, except for urgent cases. All other services are available through letters, e-mails or the NSSI call centre at /0 700 14 802/. *** A scenario was enacted at the Council of Ministers in case the coronavirus spreads in Sofia. On entering the building, all journalists were checked with remote thermometers; they had to wash their hands with a special antibacterial gel, and were given the lowest class of respiratory masks to wear until leaving the building. *** Two institutes with the Bulgarian Academy of Science (BAS) have developed mask models for general use to prevent the spreading of the coronavirus, said before journalists on Tuesday Associate Professor Yulian Revalski, head of the BAS. One of the designs is based on activated charcoal filtering, and the other uses filters at the nano level. *** Border Police intercepted an attempt to smuggle 7,850 medical masks out of Bulgaria, the Interior Ministry informed on Tuesday. The bust took place on Monday as part of an international Interpol operation. RY/MT /??/
• (NW) National Statistical Institute Reports 1.7% Growth of Construction in January, Year-on-Year
March 10 (BTA) - According to preliminary data of the National Statistical Institute (NSI) in January the production index in the Construction sector, calculated on the basis of seasonal data, has increased by 0.8 per cent compared to the previous month. Data show a 1.7 per cent increase in construction output in January 2020 compared to the same month in 2019. In January, the seasonally adjusted index of manufactured construction output was above the level of the previous month, with output from civil / engineering construction increasing by 2.3 per cent, while building construction increased by 0.2 per cent. On a year-on-year basis, the increase of construction output in January is determined by the positive rate in civil / engineering construction, where the growth is by 3.1 per cent and in building construction by 0.7 per cent. NV/DT /??/
• (DF) Foreign Minister Zaharieva Welcomes NGOs' Role for Western Balkans' European Integration
March 10 (BTA) - Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva welcomes the role of NGOs for the development of civil society and the Western Balkans' European integration. This is one of the Berlin Process' added values to the Western Balkans, which is jointly presided over by Bulgaria and North Macedonia for the first time, Zaharieva's Ministry reported in a Tuesday press release. The Bulgarian Foreign Minister addressed the participants in a forum of NGOs in Skopje titled "Stimulating Strategic Autonomy. Western Balkans' Contribution to a Common European Future", which is held as part of the upcoming Berlin Process Foreign Ministers' Meeting to be hosted by Zaharieva and North Macedonia's top diplomat Nikola Dimitrov. The forum, which gathers experts and political analysts, was organized by the Institute for Democracy "Societas Civilis" - Skopje in partnership with the European Council on Foreign Relations' Sofia office. Zaharieva confirmed Bulgaria's support for the start of negotiations on North Macedonia's and Albania's EU membership. She admitted that certain EU Member States are not enthusiastic about the enlargement. RY/MY /??/
• (DF) Foreign Minister Zaharieva Pays Visit to Skopje
March 9 (BTA) - Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva is on a two-day visit to Skopje, where she and North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov will co-host a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Berlin Process on March 10, Zaharieva's Ministry said on Monday. The event is the first within the joint presidency of the Berlin Process by Bulgaria and North Macedonia in 2020.
• (DF) No New Cases of Coronavirus in Bulgaria After Initial Four
March 9 (BTA) - No new cases of coronavirus have been identified in Bulgaria after the initial four cases, two in Pleven and two in Gabrovo, which were confirmed during the weekend, said on Monday morning the Head of the Military Medical Academy (MMA), Major General Prof. Dr. Ventsislav Mutafchiiski. He is also the chairman of the National Operations Headquarters for the fight against the novel COVID-19 coronavirus. Hospitals are imposing very strict preventive measures, including restricted access assisted by Interior Ministry officers and a 24-hour disinfection of all hospital wards. Samples of people who have been in contact with coronavirus-infected patients have arrived for testing, General Mutafchiiski said. The National Operations Headquarters is deciding how to distribute the samples for faster results. Some of the samples from Gabrovo and Pleven will be examined at the Military Medical Academy. Home quarantine is mandatory for people who have come into contact with coronavirus infected patients, General Mutafchiiski said. Following his talk Monday morning with the director of the hospital in Gabrovo, it was decided that all non-emergency wards at the establishment will be closed in order to limit hospital staff. In Gabrovo, a disinfection of all public buildings and public transportation vehicles has already began. All cultural, sports and other public events, as well as all group public appearances, are canceled. Among the measures taken is the discontinuation of classes and activities in kindergartens and nurseries. The Regional Health Inspectorate is expected to give clear guidance to employers in the area on what procedures to follow to protect workers in local businesses. RI/DT /??/
• (DF) Bulgaria Reports First Coronavirus Cases, Takes Urgent Measures to Curb Spread
March 8 (BTA) - The first four cases of the novel coronavirus were reported in Bulgaria early Sunday, prompting the Government to take urgent measures and precautions to counter the spread of the disease. Four people in Bulgaria have been confirmed infected with coronavirus, the Director of the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Prof. Todor Kantardjiev, told an urgent briefing here on Sunday. Two male patients, 27- and 61-years-old, were diagnosed in the northern city of Pleven. A woman of 75 from the north-central city of Gabrovo and a woman from the medical staff of the hospital were she had been admitted, were diagnosed as well.



Follow Bulgaria-Italia on Twitter  Follow Bulgaria-Italia on YouTube   Follow Bulgaria-Italia on LinkedIn

Ultime Notizie
 

Conoscere la Bulgaria
  Arte e Cultura Cittΰ e Localitΰ Economia Folklore Informazioni Politica e Governo Societΰ Turismo

Notizie
  Temi Speciali Autori News Feeds (rss) Media bulgari (english)