Bulgaria to loosen Covid-19 restrictions in April

Minister of Healthcare Kostadin Angelov

A loosening of Covid-19 restrictions is planned for April, Bulgarian Health Minister Kostadin Angelov told a news briefing on Tuesday. Pupils will be probably back to school from 12 April, and toddlers may return to kindergartens from April 5. The timetable for a restart of in-person classes has yet to be specified.

Shopping malls and large retail outlets will remain closed on 1 April, except those that can arrange service outdoors. Restaurants may be allowed to operate in their open-air sections.

The number of hospitalised patients is edging down, Angelov said, adding that hospitals are coping with the workload and that enough protective means, apparatus and oxygen have been provided. “All medical-treatment facilities are supplied with oxygen on time. If any supply is delayed, I will not hesitate to order a ban on oxygen exports,” the minister assured the media.

The pressure on the healthcare system is uneven at this point, but two-thirds of the administrative regions have no problems with beds and workload, Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev said at the news briefing. In his words, the pressure is significant, but the system's capacity to handle it is just as significant. Kunchev said that the loosening of the epidemic-control measures planned for 1 April is warranted by the fact that over a million Bulgarians are now protected against the virus, either by passing through the infection or through vaccination.

People will be free to choose a vaccine by the end of April, Kunchev also said.

Inoculation through all channels will be prioritised during the next two months, he stressed, adding that the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected in the second half of April. It is easier to use because it does not have to be kept at extremely low temperatures.

A shipment of 51,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Bulgaria on Tuesday, and 151,000 AstraZeneca doses are expected on Wednesday.

Angelov said that approximately 700,000 vaccine doses are due to arrive in April, and this quantity may be increased through negotiations. “We are exceedingly optimistic about the pace of vaccination,” the health minister added.

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