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Shortage of protective masks, disinfectants nation-wide, small municipalities face serious challenges

Photo: БГНЕС

Doctors, municipal officials and people from the social patronage service ring the alarm over the danger of contamination due to the lack of basic hygiene products.

"The supply of protective equipment and disinfectants is our biggest problem," Sylvia Georgieva, executive director of the National Association of Municipalities, told the Bulgarian National Radio. "Social enterprises have started to sew masks, but there are still no regulations regarding the supplies."

Another serious problem, according to Sylvia Georgieva, is that Bulgarians returning from abroad do not observe the imposed restrictions.

So that food and medical supplies could reach the elderly who live alone, or are sick and in a disadvantaged position, the municipal social patronage services will be reorganized in all 265 municipalities of Bulgaria. In the meantime, most mayors have opened food and medical supply centres with the help of volunteers.

Other measures undertaken by the National Association of Municipalities include non-payment of fees in kindergartens during the state of emergency; exemption from paying rent for commercial outlets whose activity has been discontinued in municipal premises; also the municipal water supply companies will not stop the water supply of people who did not pay their water bills.

“We are systematically informing the public of the changes in the rules and deadlines related to the implementation of European projects,” Sylvia Georgieva explained. “This is very important at the moment, as most of the projects are delayed and extended.”

In the meantime, the Regional Health Inspectorate and the Labour Inspectorate in the town of Lovech have announced that they are launching inspections at companies to determine whether employers have created safe working conditions for their employees in relation to the coronavirus epidemic.

The number of coronavirus-infected people in Smolyan Region (Southern Bulgaria) is rising - three people from different municipalities have already tested positive for COVID-19. More than a hundred people are subject to quarantine as they have returned from European countries. Bulgarians keep returning mainly from England, Germany and Spain.

Nearly one hundred are Bulgarian citizens who have returned from at-risk countries in the southern Bulgarian town of Kardzhali. Teams of police officers and medical specialists are already making checks in the homes of Bulgarians arriving from abroad. A hotline for reporting violations of the anti-epidemic measures has also been opened. The bus lines of the intercity network operate at less frequent intervals.

Six people - four of whom are medical personnel - have tested positive for COVID-19 in Burgas. The city is witnessing a dramatic scenario with 26 Georgians unable to leave the country as Turkey refuses to provide them with a green corridor. Another eight Georgian citizens have been quarantined in Burgas.

From the regional town of Yambol (Southeast Bulgaria) comes the news about the forthcoming opening of a second intensive care unit at the regional hospital. It will only treat COVID-19 patients with severe complications. The hospital has eight respiratory ventilation devices, as another four have been ordered which are expected within the next month. So far, no coronavirus patients have been registered in the municipality. Most of the town's residents adhere to the imposed measures, the streets are empty, the hours of shopping in pharmacies and grocery stores are also well received by the local residents.

A curfew has been introduced in the resort town of Velingrad in the Rhodope Mountain - after 8 p.m. unaccompanied minors and underage youngsters are prohibited from going out. Visits to playgrounds, parks and sports grounds are also prohibited.

One of the measures taken by the Sofia Municipality against the spread of the coronavirus involves the washing of streets and subways with disinfectants.

English Rossitsa Petcova

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