The day after the authorities dismantled most of the relatively meager anti-pandemic restrictions, Bulgaria marked a historic high in the number of new daily infections. Over the past 24 hours, 5176 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Wednesday, precisely one quarter of the 20,500 tests carried out over the day.
The number of fatalities is 155 and most intensive care beds remain taken, hospitals report. "If we listen only to the directors of hospitals, epidemiologists and medics, of course, we'd always keep stricter restrictions. But when politicians and ministers make decisions, they also take into account the other side - the fact that people need to take a breath," Angel Kunchev from the National Crisis Committee told Bulgarian National Television on Wednesday.
US State Department attacks Sofia on media freedom, government abuse
Bulgaria's authorities must do more to protect human rights and civil liberties. These are the basic takeouts from the 2020 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Bulgaria published late on Tuesday by the US State Department. The report singles out negative trends in Bulgarian media and highlights the role of oligarchs, including Kiril Domuschiev and Delyan Peevski, in undermining the media environment. Other significant problems cited include violent treatment by police, arbitrary arrests, serious issues with judicial independence, and grave acts of corruption and crimes against Roma, LGBT people and refugees.
World Bank cuts projected GDP growth in Bulgaria to 2,6 percent
The international economic institution has lowered the expected growth of GDP of Bulgaria by 0,7 percent, from 3,3 percent in January to 2,6 percent currently in a report issued on Wednesday. The declining growth forecast is attributed to the poor vaccination campaign, the hit to the tourism sector and likely problems forming a new government after the 4 April elections. The report also criticized the weakness of institutions and governance that undermined its prospects for growth.
NATO jets, including Bulgarian, intercepted three Russian planes over the Black Sea
The NATO Allied Air Command based in the Ramstein Air Base in Germany announced on Wednesday that on Monday it had detected three Russian military aircraft flying too close to the Alliance's airspace over the Black Sea. The airplanes were intercepted by NATO jets from Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Turkey, the Air Command said. Throughout 29 March, Allied jets had been scrambled ten times in other areas close to Russia, NATO said, including over the Baltic and the North Sea. In none of these incidents did Russian aircraft attempt to cross into Allied airspace. Since the annexation of Crimea, Russian threats of incursion of NATO airspace have been increasing, with a peak of 290 cases in 2019.