The Bulgarian government has extended the state of Epidemic Emergency, which was introduced due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, until August 31. Authorities stated that the decision was taken in order to allow the enforcement of any temporary measures that may be introduced to prevent the virus from spreading. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been increasing with the country since June 9.
Although Bulgarian authorities have lifted restrictions on domestic travel, a number of restrictions remain in place. The wearing of face masks is mandatory in all indoor public spaces, with the exception of dining and drinking areas. Restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues may operate at a reduced capacity with social distancing measures in place. However, indoor and outdoor gatherings remain limited to 30 people.
Bulgaria opened its borders to tourists from select countries on July 28. Tourists from Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro, Moldova, Israel, and Kuwait are now allowed to visit the country, although they must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. Tourists from Ukraine have also been permitted since July 30. International commercial flights to other selected countries continue to operate at a reduced level.
As of Friday, July 31, there have been 11,420 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bulgaria and 374 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
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