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Bulgarians abroad will be able to vote in a record number of 791 polling stations in 68 countries, the Central Election Commission (CEC) announced late last night.

586 of them were opened automatically, and for additional sections Bulgarians abroad had to collect at least 40 applications per station. The applications submitted this time reached 71,161, which is a little over 16,000 less than in the April 4 elections. At that time, nearly 88,000 Bulgarians expressed a preliminary desire to exercise their right to vote.

The number of polling stations abroad for the July 11th early vote surpassed the previous record of April, when a total of 464 polling stations were opened.

This is due, on the one hand, to the lifting of the limit of 35 sections in countries outside the European Union, and, on the other hand, to changes in the Electoral Code, which allowed automatic opening of sections where at least 100 people voted in the last 5 years. 

The largest number of polling stations will be opened in the United Kingdom - 135. In Turkey there will be an opportunity to vote in 121 places, in Germany - 116.

In Spain 67 sections will be opened, and in the USA - 58. In neighboring Greece, northern Macedonia, Serbia and Romania, the sections are 32, 6, 5 and one, respectively.

Due to security concerns, no vote is expected in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Similar is the situation in Pakistan, North Korea, Mongolia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Indonesia - either because there are very few applications or because there are none.

The National Revenue Agency (NRA) collected over BGN 4 million in outstanding payments in just 7 days.

Dozens of debtors have committed to pay more than BGN 9 million for taxes and social security contributions in the next 2 weeks, the NRA announced.

"This is due to the involvement of the territorial directors of the National Revenue Agency and the organization of emergency meetings with the largest debtors, which led to rapid results in the collection of public debts," the revenue agency said.

The regional directors spoke in person with 95 people in just seven days, and in a partnership spirit, payment options were discussed, including in regular installments.

Nearly 50 percent of the debtors made a payment immediately after the meeting.

Some of the persons have committed to repay debts totaling over BGN 9 million by the end of June 2021, and others - that they will pay their debts within the year. Meetings with people with late payments to the budget continue.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) signed a contract with Ciela-Norma company to provide technical and logistical support for the machine voting for partial local elections and the July 11th parliamentary vote.

The contract is worth BGN 4.350 million and provides for various activities, including modification of the software for both types of elections. On several occasions, Ciela-Norma was asked to amend the text of the contract.

The agreement is for the technical and logistical support of up to 11,100 machines. 9600 of them are already used in the vote on April 4, and another 1500 are expected to be provided after negotiations with the manufacturer "Smartmatic" and after another public tender for the supply of additional devices.

Earlier on Friday, the company's executive director Veselin Todorov told BNR that the contract with the CEC is expected to be signed by the end of the day.

However, he declined to comment further:

"We will have a ban, as under the old contract, such has already been introduced in the new contract, an absolute ban on any public statements. Since we will sign it at any moment, they insist no statements to be made," Todorov said.

At the beginning of the month, Ciela-Norma announced that it would not deliver the additional 1,500 machines requested by the CEC, because the proposed amount of BGN 6.5 million without VAT is insufficient for both the devices and the logistics and maintenance of the software for all machines.

The company wanted BGN 14-15 million, which is why the CEC decided to negotiate only a contract for the maintenance of the machines.

The new cases of coronavirus in Bulgaria for the past day are 105 with 14,771 tests performed, according to the data from the Unified Information Portal. The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in Bulgaria is 420,964. The active cases are 10,205.

The total number of hospitalized patients with coronavirus is 1752. The patients in the intensive care units are 208. The cured for the last day are 320. For the past 24 hours 7 new deaths have been registered.

The vaccine doses administered are a total of 1,653,186, of which 15,249 for the last 24 hours.

Greece will start admitting Bulgarian citizens with a negative rapid COVID-19 antigen test, presented on paper, starting June 19, the Greek Tourism Ministry is quoted as saying by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on Friday.

According to the Bulgarian Embassy in Athens, the test results must be issued from an authorized laboratory. The new measure will be in effect for all incoming passengers, regardless of mode of transport, who come from EU countries on the green list, which includes Bulgaria.

The restrictions have been relaxed for children as well. Those under 12 will no longer be required to present a negative PCR or rapid antigen test result, or certify that they have recovered from the virus. 

The National Police on Friday launched a probe into a case made public by caretaker Interior Minister Boiko Rashkov, BTA has learnt. The Interior Ministry said that there is an ongoing probe in connection with a concrete alert and two former and one acting magistrate have been invited for an interview within the framework of the probe.

BTA has learnt that the two former magistrates are former Sofia City Prosecutor Nikolai Kokinov and the former chief of the National Investigative Service, Boiko Naidenov. Kokinov confimed for BTA that he has been questioned. The acting magistrate is an investigator with the National Investigative Service. The prosecution service confirmed that a senior magistrate has been summoned for an interview at the National Police Directorate. NV/PP

Keep a check on your daily intake of caffeine as a new study has found that consuming large amounts of daily caffeine may increase the risk of glaucoma more than three-fold for those with a genetic predisposition to higher eye pressure.
The findings of the study were published in the journal 'Ophthalmology'. The research led by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is the first to demonstrate a dietary - genetic interaction in glaucoma. The study results may suggest patients with a strong family history of glaucoma should cut down on caffeine intake.

The study is important because glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States. It looks at the impact of caffeine intake on glaucoma, and intraocular pressure (IOP) which is pressure inside the eye.
Elevated IOP is an integral risk factor for glaucoma, although other factors do contribute to this condition. With glaucoma, patients typically experience few or no symptoms until the disease progresses and they have vision loss.

"We previously published work suggesting that high caffeine intake increased the risk of the high-tension open angle glaucoma among people with a family history of disease. In this study we show that an adverse relation between high caffeine intake and glaucoma was evident only among those with the highest genetic risk score for elevated eye pressure," said lead/corresponding author Louis R. Pasquale, MD, FARVO, Deputy Chair for Ophthalmology Research for the Mount Sinai Health System.

A team of researchers used the UK Biobank, a large-scale population-based biomedical database supported by various health and governmental agencies. They analyzed records of more than 120,000 participants between 2006 and 2010. Participants were between 39 and 73 years old and provided their health records along with DNA samples, collected to generate data.

They answered repeated dietary questionnaires focusing on how many caffeinated beverages they drink daily, how much caffeine-containing food they eat, the specific types, and portion size. They also answered questions about their vision, including specifics on if they have glaucoma or a family history of glaucoma. Three years into the study later they had their IOP checked and eye measurements.
Researchers first looked at the relationship looked between caffeine intake, IOP and self-reported glaucoma by running multivariable analyses. Then they assessed if accounting for genetic data modified these relationships. They assigned each subject an IOP genetic risk score and performed interaction analyses.

The investigators found high caffeine intake was not associated with increased risk for higher IOP or glaucoma overall; however, among participants with the strongest genetic predisposition to elevated IOP - in the top 25 percentile - greater caffeine consumption was associated with higher IOP and higher glaucoma prevalence.

More specifically, those who consumed the highest amount of daily caffeine- more than 480 milligrams which is roughly four cups of coffee - had a 0.35 mmHg higher IOP.
Additionally, those in the highest genetic risk score category who consumed more than 321 milligrams of daily caffeine - roughly three cups of coffee - had a 3.9-fold higher glaucoma prevalence when compared to those who drink no or minimal caffeine and in lowest genetic risk score group.

"Glaucoma patients often ask if they can help to protect their sight through lifestyle changes, however this has been a relatively understudied area until now.
This study suggested that those with the highest genetic risk for glaucoma may benefit from moderating their caffeine intake. It should be noted that the link between caffeine and glaucoma risk was only seen with a large amount of caffeine and in those with the highest genetic risk," said co-author Anthony Khawaja, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology University College London (UCL) Institute of Ophthalmology and ophthalmic surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital.

"The UK Biobank study is helping us to learn more than ever before about how our genes affect our glaucoma risk and the role that our behaviors and environment could play. We look forward to continuing to expand our knowledge in this area," concluded Khawaja. (ANI)

The accident closed the road Chirpan - Stara Zagora, in the area of 67 km, according to the Road Infrastructure Agency.

Drivers traveling to Bourgas cross the following bypass route: Chirpan - Maritsa Motorway - Dimitrovgrad - road I-5 Dimitrovgrad - Stara Zagora.

For passengers in the direction of Sofia: Ring road of Stara Zagora - road I-5 Stara Zagora - Kazanlak - road I-6 Kazanlak - Sofia.

The leader of "There is such a people" Slavi Trifonov commented the political situation during a meeting with students in Plovdiv.

Bulgaria's next prime minister should be the "complete opposite" of Boyko Borissov he said to the audience.

He also described what the future prime minister should look like - to know languages, to have "graduated from a prestigious university", to have expertise, to be a professional in something.

Thus, Trifonov avoided a direct answer to questions about what he would do after the elections, but his words left the impression that he would not be his party's nomination for prime minister.

The leader reiterated several times that his role also depends on the election results. One poll research in recent days, measuring electoral attitudes before the early vote, shows a minimal difference between GERB and "There is such a people" and even suggests first place of Trifonov's party.

However, the next parliament is expected to be also fragmented (with five or six parties), so a coalition will be needed to form a government.

In response to a question, Trifonov also said that he was ready for his party to be the first political force and that they had been preparing for this for several years:

"I am ready for everything that will happen to me." Introduce electronic voting, reduce administrative burdens, have internal exams for civil servants (so that they can stay in office), and report of the ministers to the public.

These were among the few more specific things that became known from the nearly two-hour meeting.

The party's deputy chairman Toshko Yordanov and Ivaylo Valchev were also present. The last two are also screenwriters on Slavi's tv show, deputies in the previous National Assembly and candidates for MPs at the upcoming elections.

The event can be considered Trifonov's first pre-election event, as the campaign officially began on June 11th. The meeting was expected with great interest, because this is the first live appearance of the TV presenter in months. It was broadcast on his Facebook profile, as well as on TV "Seven-Eight".

There are probably no other patients infected with the "Delta" version of COVID-19.

The case was dated back to May, but was announced only yesterday. This led the Minister of Health Stoycho Katsarov to ask for an explanation from the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases whether there was a delay in announcing the information.

"It is very likely that this case will be left without other cases related to it, because the patient has self-quarantined, had no contacts.

The 26-year-old man fell ill from a meeting with another foreigner who was ill and did not got infected by another local. It is probable that there will be no others infected by it , explained today on BNT Prof. Iva Hristova, who became director of the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases after Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev retired.

According to her, there is no delay in taking and processing the sample and the work is done. She specified that the sample was received on April 21 and was sequenced on May 5, because it is a long process.

The infected Bulgarian had a mild illness, he was not hospitalized, but was treated at home, with cough, runny nose, fever. He became ill between the two doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine.

"Vaccines are our most reliable weapon. Immunity against the virus is sufficient with 2 doses of vaccine. We underestimate the danger, the decline in the number of patients is a false release, " added Prof. Iva Hristova.

In connection with the registered case of an infected man with "Delta" version of COVID-19 from the Ministry of Health published clarifications after requesting additional information from the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD).

According to the information, on April 1, the young man came into contact with a person infected with COVID-19 from Northern Ireland, who left Bulgaria. After appearance of the first symptoms, the man became isolated and had no information of contact with other persons.

On April 5, the person was taken sample for COVID-19, and the sample was taken at the University Hospital "Dr. Georgi Stranski", Pleven.

As soon as a positive result for a coronavirus infection came out, the man was placed under home isolation, with mild symptoms.

The disease passed without complications. According to the data of the epidemiological study, the person received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on February 24, 2021.

On April 21, UMHAT "Dr. Georgi Stranski" sent 20 randomly selected samples for sequencing to NCIPD.

Among the samples is that of the said patient. It was sequenced on May 5, and the data were immediately deposited with the international gene bank GISAID. 

Until 16 June, it was not established that this sample was a B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant. A re-analysis revealed that it was a Delta variant, or the so-called "Indian" variant of the coronavirus.

Today it will be mostly cloudy over the whole country, in the afternoon over Western Bulgaria there will be cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds. It will be raining in some places in the afternoon accompanied by thunders.

A light to moderate wind from west-northwest will blow, according to a reference on the NIMH website.

Maximum temperatures will be between 22 ° and 27 °C, in the extreme southwestern regions, where there will be more hours of sunshine - up to about 30 °C.

Atmospheric pressure will drop slightly and will be close to the average for the month.

In the mountains it will be mostly cloudy with rain, in places accompanied by thunders.

A moderate north-northwest wind will blow there.

The maximum temperature at 1200 meters will be around 18 °C, at 2000 meters - around 11 °C. Along the Black Sea coast it will be mostly cloudy and rainy today.

A light to moderate northwest wind will blow. Maximum temperatures on the seaside will be 20-23 °C. The temperature of the sea water is 18-20 °. The sea waves will be 1-2 points.

Tata Motors and Tata Power on Friday jointly inaugurated India's largest grid-synchronised, behind-the-metre solar carport at the Tata Motors car plant at Chikhali.

The 6.2 megawatt peak (MWp) solar carport deployed by Tata Power will generate 86.4 lakh kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity per year and is estimated to reduce 7,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually and 1.6 lakh tonnes over its lifecycle. Spanning over 30,000 square metres, the carport will not only generate green power but will also provide covered parking for finished cars in the plant.

Envisioned as part of its net zero carbon goal for 2039, Tata Motors had entered into a power purchase agreement with Tata Power on August 31, 2020.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, both companies successfully managed to develop this massive carport infrastructure in a record time of nine-and-a-half months.

"We have always been conscious of the need to conserve energy and are committed towards achieving 100 per cent renewable energy source for all our operations," said Shailesh Chandra, President for passenger vehicle business unit at Tata Motors.
The company is a signatory of RE100, the global initiative bringing together the world's most influential businesses driving the transition to 100 per cent renewable electricity. (ANI)

One of the world's largest diamonds has been unearthed in Botswana, the country government said. The CNN reported that the 1,098-carat stone, believed to be the third largest "gem-quality" diamond ever found, was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday.

The discovery was made earlier this month at the Jwaneng mine, around 75 miles from the country's capital, Gaborone. The mine is operated by Debswana, a diamond company jointly owned by Botswana's government and the De Beers Group, according to countries official website.

"Proceeds from the diamond will be used to advance national development in the country," the South African country government has tweeted. "Debswana should use this latest discovery as an inflection point, for the mine to use its technology to realize more of these large discoveries," it added.

Officially opened in 1982, the Jwaneng mine usually yields between 12.5 million and 15 million carats of diamonds a year, according to Debswana. This month's find is the largest gem unearthed by the company since diamonds were first discovered in Botswana in 1967, the government said.

At present, the largest diamond ever recorded is the 3,106-carat Cullinan Diamond, found in South Africa in 1905. The Cullinan was subsequently cut into smaller stones, some of which form part of British royal family's crown jewels.
The second largest discovery is believed to be the Lesedi La Rona, a 1,109-carat stone found by Canadian firm Lucara Diamond at the Karowe mine, also in Botswana, in 2015. The diamond was sold to luxury jeweler Graff for $53 million two years later. (ANI)

United Kingdom has recorded 11,007 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, with the emergence of the Delta variant pushing the figure above 10,000 for the first time since late February.

NHK World reported that Britain has confirmed the highest number of new cases of coronavirus infection since late February due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant first detected in India. The number of admissions to medical institutions has also been rising, with more than 1,000 people currently hospitalised. Officials estimate that the Delta variant, which they believe is more transmissible than the Alpha strain first identified in the UK, accounts for more than 90 per cent of recent new cases.

The Delta variant has been spreading rapidly in the country since last month. Analysts say many recent infections have been among younger people who have not been vaccinated.

Starting on Friday, officials plan to expand vaccination eligibility to cover all individuals aged 18 or above. Officials believe that two-dose inoculations are effective against the Delta variant. They are shortening the recommended interval between shots for citizens aged 40 or older from up to 12 weeks to eight weeks.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay in plans to lift most remaining anti-infection restrictions in England by about one month. (ANI)

The newly confirmed cases of coronavirus in Bulgaria over the past 24 hours are 110 from 13,668 tests, the daily report on the National Information Portal shows on June 18.

46 were confirmed from PCR and 64 from rapid antigen tests.

The total lab-confirmed positive cases in the country since the start of the epidemic are 420,859.

The active cases are 10,427.

Of the total, 1,764 patients are in hospitals, 215 of them being in intensive care.

During the past 24 hours:

· 1,064 recoveries, bringing the total to date to 392,035;

· 18,233 administered doses of Covid-19 vaccines, bringing the total to date to 1,6137,956

· 23 Covid-19 related deaths, thus bringing the death toll to date to 17,980.

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