Good evening on Monday. A great success for Bulgarians abroad - firstly, actress Maria Bakalova got nominated for supporting female role at the Oscar awards for her role in the "Borat" sequel. Also, this weekend the Central Electoral commission announced that a record number of polling stations will open worldwide on 4 April for the upcoming Parliamentary vote - 467 sections in 69 countries, or 40 more than in 2014. More than 88,000 Bulgarian nationals living abroad have submitted declarations to embassies in their respective countries of residence, making it likely that even more people will take to the polls on 4 April. On the negative side, due to a limitation on the number of polling stations opening in non-EU countries set at 35, the UK - which officially hosts over 200,000 Bulgarians - will only get 35 voting stations, despite 83 cities having gathered the required number of declarations. In other news
Vaccination almost suspended amid 7,000 hospitalizations
On Friday, Bulgaria put immunizations with the AstraZeneca vaccines on hold after a woman died who got the Oxford vaccine a few weeks earlier. She allegedly had similar symptoms to Austrian and Danish people who died after receiving the AstraZeneca jab. On Monday, experts from the National Crisis Committee announced that the autopsy of the deceased showed no connection to the vaccine, but for the time being immunization via the vaccine remains suspended. Meanwhile, Bulgaria marked a 38 percent increase in the number of new Covid-19 infections on a weekly basis and 7,000 people are in hospital - similar to the middle of November 2020, the worst month in terms of hospitalizations and fatalities.
No fanfare as Meteorology Institute President heads State Petrol Company
The President of the Bulgarian Institute of Meteorology, Paun Iliev, is the new head of the State Petrol Company, a Bulgarian National Radio inquiry in the Company Register revealed. The state company, launched to allow the state to manage gasoline prices and suspend the unofficial cartel in the sector, had promised transparency in its dealings. Yet the change of management was unannounced. The primary task of the company, created by the Economy Ministry with a 40 million euro budget for its first two years of operation, is to create a chain of petrol stations around the country that would sell fuel with minimal markup included.
Bulgaria is EU laggard in Media Literacy index
Bulgarians are least able to withstand the assault from fake news and misinformation due to their poor level of education, the problematic media environment and lack of public trust in media, according to the 2021 edition of the Media Literacy Index by the European Policies Initiative of the Open Society Institute - Sofia. The country comes bottom of EU rankings. Only five other Western Balkan countries and Turkey fare worse. "The infodemic created a trust crisis, eroding trust as in the medical and scientific knowledge and institutions, which have been the first responders in the health crisis, as well trust crisis of governance, necessary to lead and manage the response to an increasingly all-encompassing crisis - health, social and economic," the report's author, Marin Lessenski, commented.