Premier and cabinet ministers quarantine because of Covid-19

Boyko Borissov is experiencing malaise, recovering at home and continuing to perform his official duties

PM Boyko Borissov

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and several cabinet ministers have been placed under quarantine after some of them tested positive for Covid-19 and others were in close contact with people found to have contracted the novel coronavirus. On 25 October, Borissov took to Facebook to announce that following two negative PCR tests his third one came back positive.

“I am experiencing general discomfort and recovering at home at the advice of my doctors. The Regional Health Inspectorate has been made aware of the individuals I have been in close proximity with (for the purposes of contact tracing). I am certain that by following the guidelines we will overcome this together!” the premier’s statement read.  

Two days earlier, on 23 October, it emerged that Nikolay Nankov, deputy minister of regional development, had a positive PCR test and that PM Borissov and three ministers – Minister of Regional Development Petya Avramova, Minister of Finance Kiril Ananiev and Minister of Agriculture Desislava Taneva – as well as Sevdalina Arnaudova, an official at the GERB headquarters, were among the people who had been exposed to him. They were then required to quarantine until the results of their tests came back.

On 24 October the Regional Health Inspectorate in Sofia lifted the quarantine requirement for Borissov and Ananiev after their PCR tests turned out negative, as it did for Arnaudova. The day before, Borissov attended the signing of two memoranda between Bulgaria and the US concerning the 5G network and nuclear energy. He had been tested prior to the event and did not learn of Nankov’s coronavirus infection until 4 p.m. that same day, 23 October.

The short period after which Borissov’s quarantine was lifted and the fact that a similar approach had been taken earlier in the case of President Rumen Radev’s return from his visit to Estonia caused an outcry on social media. That prompted the head of the Metropolitan Regional Health Inspectorate, Dr Dancho Penchev to make a public statement, explaining that the measure took into account the nature of their responsibilities as heads of government and state, respectively and that it was completely in line with relevant regulations. “Normally, a negative test is not enough to lift quarantine, but an exception is made for essential personnel like the premier, the president, and frontline healthcare workers,” Dr Dancho Penchev elucidated.

“I would like to thank everyone for their concern and support. My condition is unchanged – I am still experiencing a general feeling of discomfort. I am proceeding as any other Bulgarian citizen who has been told by their GP to recuperate at home,” Borissov posted on Facebook on 27 October. He stressed that his condition is not preventing him from performing his professional duties.

“The coronavirus is back with a vengeance. … It is up to us to take the more cautious route. We already demonstrated once that we can cope with this challenge together. Let us do it again!” PM Boyko Borissov wrote in response to healthcare workers’ appeal to the Bulgarian public to follow the mitigation measures put in place in the face of the spiking number of coronavirus cases in the country.

“The doctors, the nurses and the janitors are once again demonstrating outside their hospitals. This is because the coronavirus is back with a vengeance. The teams of people saving lives are calling for us to be responsible. So we can protect ourselves and our loved ones. Yes, this virus is formidable. It presents an unprecedented test for us. We cannot lock down the entire country again! But we can act responsibly and slow down the rate of infection. By remembering how important it is to wear a mask, socially distance and sanitise regularly. By immediately contacting our GPs if we experience symptoms because they know how to help us. So, take the sight of our healthcare workers demonstrating outside their hospitals to heart. It is up to us to take the more cautious route. We already demonstrated once that we can cope with this challenge together. Let us do it again.”

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