Bulgaria confirms two new cases of coronavirus, first in capital of Sofia (UPDATED)

Six are now the total number of COVID-19 cases, hundreds are being tested

Dr. Angel Kunchev of the coronavirus crisis response team

The coronavirus crisis response team announced Tuesday night two new cases of the infection have been confirmed in Bulgaria, making the total number of cases in Bulgaria six. A man and a woman spouses are in the hospital, the man in serious condition, the woman is critical. Both are in Pirogov hospital in Sofia.

The 74-year-old man sought medical attention on Monday with severe shortness of breath. He had had a history of pulmonary illness. His wife (66) took him to the hospital where he was admitted and treated, and also tested for coronavirus, which came back positive.

Meanwhile his wife had gotten worse over the course of the day and was admitted on Tuesday in worse condition than the man and had to be intubated. Her tests for the coronavirus also came back positive. The units where the patients are treated is isolated, the medical personnel of the unit are also under quarantine.

The two spouses have not traveled anywhere recently. They work at a stand at Ilientsy market place, one of the larger marketplaces in the capitol Sofia. The teams working on containing the virus have identified 89 people with whom the two have been in contact with and have started procedures for testing and isolating the contact persons.

Meanwhile 300 people, who have been in contact with the previous four confirmed cases (two in Pleven and two in Gabrovo) have all been tested for the COVID-19, a spokesperson for the coronavirus crisis response team said. Not all test results have come back yet, but all that have, have been negative. All four cases are showing signs of improvement and recovery.

The authorities strongly recommend people limit their social interactions and international travels, especially to high risk countries.

Meanwhile, all schools and some universities are closed due to a flu epidemic, which the Health Ministry declared last week. Planned medical operations and other procedures are also canceled under the order from the Health Ministry. It will announce sometime during the day its decision whether to extend the measure.

The New Bulgarian University has already decided to remain closed at least until Sunday. The NBU has also recommended to its professors to prepare for the possibility to move all classes online after Sunday, March 15 if the situation worsens.

UPDATE 1:00 PM: Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova said schools in Sofia will remain closed until March 15 due to the flu outbreak. 

The head of the coronavirus response team General Ventsislav Mutafchiyski announced new measures to contain the COVID-19. The total ban on culture events (enforced on Sunday) will be lifted but special measures against coronavirus spared will be taken: at least one empty seat will separate members of theater audiences. The theaters will be disinfected after every event. Protocols have been issued mandating disinfection three times daily in all public buildings. Audience of sporting events will be limited to 250 people separated by at least a meter from one another.

Schools where a student, teacher or family member is infected with the COVOD-19 will shut down for 14 days. In municipalities with confirmed cases sporting events will take place without audiences. The measures for culture events will be the same as in municipalities without confirmed cases. 

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The original version of this article was published at 10:30 AM on March 11, and updated with new information at 1:00 PM the same day.

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