Bulgaria will close its clubs and order high school and university students to study remotely for two weeks as of October 29 in a bid to curb rising coronavirus infection rates, the country’s health minister said on Tuesday.
“We have to defuse Covid-19 spread…and if we continue to neglect the [preventative] measures, at some point it may be too late,” Health Minister Kostadin Angelov said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“We are facing severe winter months – we are entering the flu season and the risk that the health system will not survive is real.”
The minister’s stark words come as government statistician Nikolay Vitanov forecast that the country was set to hit 68,500 cases by November.
A ban on crowds at sporting events and reducing capacity at theaters and cinemas to 30 percent are also among the new measures, which will be in place until November 12.
The restrictions are being introduced as some hospitals warned they have been left on the brink with a “lack of manpower” as new cases of the virus have shot up in Bulgaria.
On Tuesday, the country recorded 2,243 new Covid-19 infections – its highest daily total throughout the whole pandemic so far. Of those cases, 900 were in the capital Sofia, while three regions – Ruse, Kyustendil and Razgrad – were added to the “red zone” list of areas hardest-hit by the virus.
Other measures due to come into force on October 29 include an order on restaurants and cafes to ensure 1.5 meters between guests, with the maximum group size cut to six people.
Students in primary and lower secondary education will be exempt from the closure of schools.
In total 40,143 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Bulgaria since March, and 1,146 have died.
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