Bulgaria capitals

Daily coronavirus infections in Bulgaria at record high

A man, wearing a protective face mask, boards a train, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sofia, Bulgaria October 27, 2020. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

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SOFIA, Jan 12 (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s daily coronavirus infections hit a record 7,062 on Wednesday, largely fueled by the highly contagious variant of Omicron, official data showed.

New cases, on the rise since the start of the year, surpassed a previous peak set at the end of October, when the European Union’s least vaccinated member state was struggling with the Delta variant.

The virus has killed 89 people in the past 24 hours in the Balkan country, according to official figures, bringing the total death toll to 31,761.

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More than 5,200 people were in hospitals, including 580 in intensive care. In the capital, Sofia, planned operations were put on hold as hospitals prepared to expand wards for COVID-19 patients.

Health authorities have said an increase in hospitalizations could mean further restrictions.

At present, Bulgarians must wear masks indoors and on public transport and show a health pass, given to people who have been vaccinated, recovered or who have tested negative for the virus, to enter restaurants. , cafes, malls and gymnasiums.

A new centrist government that took office last month has called on vaccine-skeptical Bulgarians to get vaccinated and offered a one-time cash reward of 75 levi ($43.59) to pensioners who choose to get fully vaccinated or to take a reminder.

In an attempt to lead by example, lawmakers voted to make the health pass compulsory for entry into parliament from January 24.

The government’s vaccination campaign and surge in new cases have boosted vaccinations since the start of the year.

On Wednesday, more than 31,900 doses were administered, bringing the number of Bulgarians fully vaccinated to 1.95 million, or around 30% of the population.

Anti-vaccine protesters, organized by the ultra-nationalist Revival party, are expected to rally on Wednesday against the health pass, which they say limits their rights and is a backdoor way to force vaccinations.

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Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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