Feed Provided By Novinite



The 2020 edition of the Global Drug Survey has found that residents in English-speaking countries and Northern Europe drink to intoxication more often than in any other region of the world.

"Based on data from > 90,000 people who drink, respondents to GDS from predominately English-speaking countries and Scandinavia get drunk more times per year than in any other country," the report's executive summary read.

The survey defined drunkenness as “having drunk so much that your physical and mental faculties are impaired to the point where your balance / speech was affected, you were unable to focus clearly on things and that your conversation and behaviors were very obviously different to people who know you.”

UK residents top the list with 34 episodes of intoxication per year, or almost every 10 days. Next come Australia and Denmark with 32 episodes, and Finland with 28 episodes.

The least frequent drunk drinkers reside in South America — people in Argentina and Colombia get intoxicated fewer than seven times per year, according to the findings.

The global average is 21 episodes of intoxication per year. Men aged 25 and younger get drunk most frequently (28 times per year), while women aged 25 and older get drunk the rarest (12 times per year). Regrets about excessive consumption are common among 33 percent of respondents, the poll found.

One in 30 women younger than 25 seeks emergency medical treatment from intoxication, which is almost three times more than among men and women aged 25 and older.

The survey was conducted in 25 countries from 7 November to 30 December 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In Bulgaria, 2,223 companies received payments under the working capital support programme of BGN 22.2 million less than 168 hours after the deadline for submitting project proposals. These companies have undergone an automated software check that indicates full compliance of the data specified in the applications with those available in the National Revenue Agency (NRA).

By the end of the week, the companies will be approved for support that submitted applications in the past week, for which after an automated check there is a complete compliance of the data, the NRA sources added. A list of the candidates approved so far is enclosed with an order of the Executive Director of the NRA – https://nap.bg/page?id=799, available on the website of the revenue agency. Companies yet to be approved for support will be included in a new order by the end of the week.

Other enterprises applying for financial assistance not included in the orders will be subject to additional audits by the revenue inspectors at the NRA and, if necessary, additional clarifications will be requested through the ISUN information system by e-mail.

More than 8,100 sales firms applied for working capital support through the National Revenue Agency by 4.30pm on January 20, when the application deadline expires. The total amount of support requested is BGN 115 million NRA reminds.

 

Every year, the victims and the families of the Holocaust are remembered with a series of events as a way to honour their memory and remind the world of the horrors that took place.

Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, but in a world scarred by genocide, it’s not just those who died under Nazi persecution that are remembered but also people who died in other genocides in Africa and Asia.

But when does the commemoration take place and how will it be marked this year with lockdown and social distancing in place because of the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s what we know.

It is a British commemoration day dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in the Holocaust under Nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

It was first held in January 2001 and in 2005, the day has been supported by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, a charity set up and funded by the UK Government of which Prince Charles is patron.

Holocaust Memorial Day is marked every year on 27 January.

It is also the date chosen for the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and some other national Holocaust Memorial Days.

The date was chosen because on 27 January 1945, the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviet troops.

There is usually a national event that brings together survivors, their families, celebrities and members of the Royal Family to mark the day.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 will be “be the light in the darkness” to encourage everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to as well as the ways individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘-“be the light” before, during and after genocide.

"All analyses show that school students are the main spreaders of the virus - the so-called "virus super-spreaders, i.e. they form a very small group of people who infect a large number of others. That's because they're asymptomatic and they transmit a lot of viruses," told BNR Dr. Asparuh Iliev, head of a laboratory in Bern who lives in Germany, an expert on vaccine safety.

According to him, the opening of schools in Bulgaria would be a mistake. Dr. Iliev stressed that he does not give an opinion, but cites facts from research and analysis:

"Parents and teachers may disagree, but we have to say that," he said emphatically.

"A lot of people are tired of isolation, but we cannot turn a blind eye on what's happening. ... This virus is not a whim of politicians," he said, clarifying that people have the right to protest, but not to forget the seriousness of the pandemic.

In the words of Dr. Asparuh Iliev, the culture of entertainment and "relaxation in restaurants" is very different from that in many Western countries:

"There is nothing to lie about, restrictive measures in disco clubs and bars can not be observed, maybe only on paper, but in practice everyone knows what the situation is. I have some understanding for malls that they can cope with adequate hygiene measures, but for small restaurants I am absolutely sceptical and I think we should wait another 2-3 weeks with their opening, but obviously the government is under public pressure.“

He was adamant that we could not afford to let the situation get out of hand because the health system would not be able to cope.

Dr. Iliev said that in Switzerland and Germany the measures are very strict because of the so-called British strain of the coronavirus that is much more contagious and much more deadly.

Dr. Asparuh Iliev's prognosis for the implementation of the vaccination plan in Bulgaria was that in the next 5-6 months there will be many more willing to receive vaccine than the available vaccines:

"This is a problem across the EU. The European Commission has failed in negotiating sufficient quantities of vaccines. It has provided insufficient vaccines quantities for EU countries".

In his words, both Pfizer and Modern at the beginning of the negotiations with the EC offered even larger quantities than were ordered.

With regard to the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, Dr Iliev commented that in terms of the quantities that can be provided by its manufacturers, it is "a propaganda rather than a medical instrument":

"The quantities they can provide are more than modest."

 

"As we deal with disasters and accidents, when there is a problem, we immediately respond to eliminate risk, so we deal with the pandemic, we masterfully prevent the threats. That is why Bulgaria boasts the best parameters in terms of coping with the pandemic,“ commented Prime Minister Boyko Borissov during today's regular cabinet sitting, at which BGN 5.76 million was allocated to municipalities to overcome the consequences of disasters and to repair streets.

The Prime Minister compared the current situation with Covid-19 in Bulgaria with what is happening in other European countries and the strict measures put in place there.

"And instead of being proud of it, we will now be looking for a way to let the pandemic break out again and close everything, like they did in other countries. Should we do it?" the Prime Minister asked.

PM Borissov noted that he understands the difficulties of the restaurant and hotel businesses.

 "We understand them, too, which is why both the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and the Ministry of Economy have developed so many support measures worth nearly BGN 2 billion," the Prime Minister reminded.

He added that, along with help for pensioners, spending is rising to around BGN 3 billion.

"This is not the attitude of the whole tourism industry", noted Mayor of Bansko ski resort Ivan Kadev, adding that "the vast majority understand the measures imposed in our country and accept them. Because theline between people's lives and health and business is very thin.And thank you for the measures the government is implementing," he said.

The government approved allocation of BGN 4,296 million for the municipalities of Bansko, Blagoevgrad, Sapareva Banya and Apriltsi to prevent, manage and overcome the consequences of disasters. And the remaining BGN 1.47 million of the total amount of BGN 5.76 million the Council of Ministers allocated to the budget of the Municipality of Dobrich for an overhaul of Dobrich street "Major General Stefan Popov" and several other busy and intensively used sections of the street network in the city.

Bansko Municipality receives BGN 1,339,951. to reinforce thebed of the Glazne River, flowing through the town of Bansko, "Glazne is a mountainous, strong, lush river that has caused us a lot of problems over the years. It is important for us to reinforce its bed, to clean it, to make sure that when the two rivers – Banderishka and Demjanishka come together, the city will remain calm and secure", said the Mayor of Bansko Ivan Kadev.

Another BGN 1,746,261 are allocated to Blagoevgrad to secure the town against landslides.

"It is always good when a municipality turns to the government and it reacts adequately and quickly to help with such a really big problem", Mayor of Blagoevgrad Rumen Tomov told Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. Tomov added that the aid is extremely valuable and timely, as only two weeks ago the municipality had a problem with a landslide.

With BGN 728,782 allocated for the budget of Sapareva Banya, a road reconstruction will be carried out, a drainage system and road facilities will be built on the local road connecting the Protection of the Virgin Mary Monastery with the city of Resilovo. The mayor of Sapareva Banya Kalin Gelev stressed the importance of the reconstruction of the road for the monastery, which is one of the most visited local sites and pilgrims from all over Bulgaria come there.

"The road leads to a sacred place and the mayor repeatedly posed the question. That's how you do something important for the region. And I thank you for this exceptional work you do for the Bulgarian people, religion is very important", Prime Minister Boyko Borisov addressed the monastery nuns.

In the course of the government meeting, BGN 481,519 was allocated for Apriltsi municipality, of which: BGN 255,880 for cleaning of the Ostreshka and the Vidima rivers, BGN 142,849 - to strengthen the pavement consoles on the bridge of the Ostreshka River and BGN 82,790 - to build a retaining wall.

 

The pandemic brings the regions of Bulgaria closer together being part of the crisis in itself. It very disproportionately affected the leading economic centers and in this sense the gap was bridged. Of course, when we return to the moment of recovery, the gap will reopen, because the regions with the greatest growth potential are hit hardest. This was stated by Adrian Nikolov, Institute for Market Economy, in the show "The World is Business" hosted by Ivaylo Lakov.

According to Nikolov, a major regional problem is the labour market in Blagoevgrad, which has suffered from the closure of several large factories and the impact on tourism.

"The economy there is much more sluggish, the recovery will be much slower," Nikolov said.

He noted that Vidin and Montana are among the municipalities that have suffered the hardest blow from the pandemic because of the high unemployment rate previously.

"Plovdiv is an example of industrial success, but it has problems finding qualified staff... The communications dynamics is limited, it has its boundaries," the economist told Bloomberg TV Bulgaria.

The expert pointed out that Gabrovo hopes to become Sofia of northern Bulgaria, but there are very severe demographic problems there. "The workforce is shrinking quite quickly, every upcoming company will have to bring in a workforce, along with capital," Nikolov said.

With regard to the Black Sea coast, he said, there are cities that also boast strong industrial economies, but those relying mainly on tourism will have to look for investment in new areas.

Nikolov also touched upon the effect of the anti-epidemic measures in Bulgaria.

"The success of the 60-40 payroll support scheme launched to maintain employment is moderate, but there have been several very big problems, including the payments delay, the challenges in formulating it, in determining aid size," he said.

According to Nikolov, if this mechanism had been activated faster, 20-30 thousand more jobs might have been saved.

 

 

 






 

 






 

 






Netherlands saw street riots for 3 days ending with over 500 people detained.

In several cities, including the capital Amsterdam, some businesses closed early and emergency ordinances were in place to give law enforcement greater powers to respond to the rioting, which was prompted by a nighttime curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday when the 9 p.m. curfew went into effect, rowdy crowds of youths gathered in Amsterdam and Hilversum, but were broken up without incident. In Rotterdam, 17 people were detained for violating social distancing regulations.

That was in stark contrast to Monday night, when rioting rocked cities across the country and more than 180 people were arrested for burning vehicles, stone throwing and widespread looting.

But he cautioned that one night of quiet did not mean they could let down their guard. “We have to remain alert,” Woelders said.

The Netherlands’ first curfew since World War Two was imposed on Saturday despite weeks of falling infections, after the National Institute for Health (RIVM) said a faster-spreading variant first found in England was causing a third of cases.

A hospital in Rotterdam had warned visitors of patients to stay away, after rioters tried to attack hospitals in various cities.

A nationwide appeal issued by law enforcement on Tuesday evening called on parents to keep teenagers indoors, warning they could end up with a criminal record and forced to pay for damage to cars, shops or property.

In Amsterdam on Monday, groups of youths threw fireworks, broke store windows and attacked a police truck, but were broken up by a massive police presence.

Ten police officers were injured in Rotterdam, where 60 rioters were detained overnight after widespread looting and destruction in the city centre, a police spokeswoman said. Supermarkets in the port city were emptied, while bins and vehicles were set ablaze.

Two photographers were hurt after being targeted by rock-throwing gangs, one in Amsterdam and another in the nearby town of Haarlem, police said.

Coronavirus infections have been falling in recent weeks, with the number of new cases down by 8% over the past week. A little under 4,000 new infections were reported on Tuesday, the smallest daily increase since Nov. 24.

But the RIVM said the situation in the Netherlands was still very serious as a result of the more contagious variant that has caused a massive surge in cases in Britain.

Schools and non-essential shops across the Netherlands have been shut since mid-December. Bars and restaurants were closed two months earlier. The country’s death toll stands at 13,664, with 956,867 infections to date.

The consequence of being cut off from the world’s largest and most dynamic economy is bad enough, but perhaps equally damaging is the pariah status associated with being on the wrong end of Washington’s Treasury Department

The massive tubes that stretch across Bulgaria, at first glance, appear benign. Traveling like an earthworm both beneath the soil and over land, the so-called Balkan Stream gas pipeline futilely tries to avoid drawing attention to itself. This pipeline, though, is not akin to an earthworm burrowing its way through the Balkans, but a snakeone with deadly venom.

If you haven’t heard of the Balkan Stream, then chances are you know this pipeline by its proper name, TurkStream, which originates in Russia, runs under the Black Sea, emerges in Turkey and then on to Bulgaria. Renaming the pipeline was a Potemkin effort by Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov to camouflage its connection to the Russian pipe, the inauguration of which would subject Bulgaria to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s whims and isolate my country from the democratic West.

That is because the United States intends to sanction anything that touches TurkStream, and for good reason as the pipeline’s sole mission is to cripple Putin’s enemies and finance his corrupt regime. The fact that TurkStream infrastructure has penetrated Bulgaria is an undeniable victory for the Kremlinbut the victory can be made hollow. In March 2021, the Bulgarians will head to the polls and to avoid future sanctions, reject Putin’s nefarious aims, and stand with our European and U.S. allies, the next governing coalition in Sofia must ensure that the Bulgarian section of TurkStream will never carry Russian gas.

Doing so would bring manifest benefits, with one of the most important being the avoidance of U.S. sanctions. While the penalties would likely be placed on individuals or entities that facilitated TurkStream’s construction, the whole country would suffer. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made that much clear over the summer when the State Department updated its sanctions guidance to target TurkStream.

“It’s a clear warning to companies aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated,” Pompeo said in July. “Get out now, or risk the consequences.”

The consequence of being cut off from the world’s largest and most dynamic economy is bad enough, but perhaps equally damaging is the pariah status associated with being on the wrong end of Washington’s Treasury Department. When investors and benefactors think of U.S. sanctions, countries that come to their minds include Belarus, Venezuela and North Korea.

Being in the same league as those countries offers Bulgaria nothing, just like TurkStream. Putin’s pipeline fails to meet even the lowest threshold that should be applied to new energy projects in a country like Bulgaria, which is to diversify energy supply. Currently, more than 75 percent of Bulgaria’s natural gas imports come from Russia, and TurkStream would only deepen that dependence, allowing Putin to cut off Bulgaria’s energy supply at will. As Borisov embraces TurkStream, he apparently is rejecting a pipeline that would connect Bulgaria to a Greek Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminal that would allow Bulgaria to more easily access LNG from countries like the United States, which is increasingly shipping gas to Europe./Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Pavel Valnev nationalinterest.org

The masks with a valve and a filter protect only those who wear them, but not the people around them " said Prof. Penka Petrova, director of the Institute of Microbiology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

This comes after a study of safety masks was conducted in Bulgaria. According to the new order of the Minister of Health from February 1 to April 30, it will no longer be allowed to cover the mouth and nose with a scarf or helmet instead of a mask.

It is permissible to wear cheaper disposable masks, as well as textile, and not necessarily more expensive and higher class FFP2, to which a number of European countries have switched. Prof. Penka Petrova reminded that the masks type FFP2 have a very high degree of protection.

"They are four-layered, they stop 95% of the aerosols, and the air that we inhale and exhale is completely sterile," she explained. She herself believes that textile masks are not as effective in limiting the spread of the virus, and reminded that over time, the threads in the fabric may become looser and this may increase permeability. "The tests we did showed that after 15 washes at 40 degrees, the effectiveness of textile masks decreased a lot," she said.

"There is a wide choice of protective masks on the market. FFP2 and FFP3 differ in protection level. FFP2 protects against all particles and microorganisms at about 94%. FFP3 is safe at about 98-99%,“ said Chair of the Association of Pharmacy Owners Nikolay Kostov.

"Ordinary hygiene masks, and surgical ones  are loose –fitting.  That's why they're not designed to provide as much protection as the others," he said.

Kostov also explained that the shape of the FFP2 and FFP3 masks resembles a cup, so as not to touch the lips and when wetted not to be a threat to the person wearing it.

 

Global coronavirus cases surpassed 100 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, as countries around the world struggle with new virus variants and vaccine shortfalls. 

Almost 1.3% of the world's population has now been infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and more than 2.1 million people have died.

One person has been infected every 7.7 seconds, on average, since the start of the year. Around 668,250 cases have been reported each day over the same period, and the global fatality rate stands at 2.15%.

The worst-affected countries – the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom – make up more than half all reported COVID-19 cases but represent 28% of the global population, according to a Reuters analysis.

It took the world 11 months to record the first 50 million cases of the pandemic, compared to just three months for cases to double to 100 million. 

Around 56 countries have begun vaccinating people for the coronavirus, administering at least 64 million doses. Israel leads the world on per capita vaccinations, inoculating 29% of its population with at least one dose.

With over 25 million cases, the United States has 25% of all reported COVID cases although it accounts for just 4% of the world's population. The United States leads the world in the daily average number of new deaths reported, accounting for one in every five deaths reported worldwide each day. With just under 425,00 fatalities, the United States has reported almost twice as many deaths as Brazil, which has the second-highest death toll in the world.

As the worst-affected region in the world, Europe is currently reporting a million new infections about every four days and has reported nearly 30 million since the pandemic began. Britain on Tuesday reached 100,000 deaths.

The Eastern European region, including countries like Russia, Poland and Ukraine, contribute to nearly 10% of all global COVID-19 cases.

Despite securing deals for vaccine supplies early on, many European countries are facing delays in shipments from both Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca Plc. 

 

In the festive December of 2020, when the restrictive measures from the second national blockade were in force, 59% of hotel managers in the country reported a decrease in revenues from their activities compared to the previous month, and 30.9% indicated that there was no change.

This is shown by a survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute among the managers of the accommodation establishments. Under the last restrictive measures from the end of last year, the hotels and restaurants to them had the right to work.

In the last month of last year, 52.6% of respondents considered offering their customers an alternative period for using the reservations, 61.4% intended to reduce the price of a package of services, and 48.9% - per night. Accommodation facilities that have benefited from government measures to support employers continue to increase, reaching 34.6% in December 2020 compared to 31.8% in the previous month.

 Regarding their short-term future activity in December, 45.6% of managers plan to continue with their current activity, although with a reduced volume, 30.7% of them plan to continue working, 19.2% plan to temporarily cease their activities, and 2.7% predict their termination. In the short term (over the next month), 47.2% of managers predict that they will be able to service "up to 50%" of operating costs with their own funds, 31.1% will not be able to manage on their own, and 21, 2% of respondents indicate that they will succeed "up to 100%".

US President Joe Biden has had his first call with Vladimir Putin, the White House and Kremlin said.

Mr Biden raised concerns about the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny while pressing the Russian president on his nation’s involvement in a massive cyber espionage campaign and bounties on American troops in Afghanistan, US officials said.

On a positive note, the two presidents agreed to have their teams work urgently to complete an extension of New Start, the last remaining US-Russian arms control treaty, before it expires next month.

“In the nearest days, the parties will complete the necessary procedures that will ensure further functioning” of the pact, the Kremlin said in its readout of the call.

Mr Biden has looked to establish a break from the warm rhetoric often displayed towards Mr Putin by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

But the new president is also looking to preserve room for diplomacy.

Unlike his immediate predecessors, Mr Biden has not held out hope for a “reset” in relations with Russia but has instead indicated he wants to manage differences with the former Cold War foe without necessarily resolving them or improving ties.

And, with a heavy domestic agenda and looming decisions needed on Iran and China, a direct confrontation with Russia is not something he seeks.

Moscow reached out last week to request the call, according to the US officials.

Mr Biden agreed but wanted first to prepare with his staff and speak to European allies, including the leaders of Britain, France and Germany.

On Tuesday before his call with Mr Putin, Mr Biden spoke to Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, pledging the United States’ commitment to the decades-old alliance founded as a bulwark against Russian aggression.

Mr Biden told Mr Putin that his administration is assessing the SolarWinds breach and the reports that Russia offered the Taliban bounties to kill American troops in Afghanistan.

Mr Biden said the United States is willing to defend itself and will take action, which could include further sanctions, to ensure that Moscow does not act with impunity, according to the administration officials.

The Kremlin’s readout did not address the most contentious issues between the countries, though it said the leaders also discussed other “acute issues on the bilateral and international agenda”.

It described the talk as “frank and businesslike” – often a diplomatic way of referring to tense discussions.

It also said Mr Putin congratulated Mr Biden on becoming president and “noted that normalisation of ties between Russia and the United States would serve the interests of both countries”.

Among the issues it said were discussed were the coronavirus pandemic, the Iran nuclear agreement, Ukraine and issues related to trade and the economy.

The call came as Mr Putin considers the aftermath of pro-Navalny protests that took place in more than 100 Russian cities over the weekend.

Mr Biden’s team has already reacted strongly to the crackdown on the protests, in which more than 3,700 people were arrested across Russia, including more than 1,400 in Moscow. More protests are planned for the coming weekend.

Mr Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and Mr Putin’s best-known critic, was arrested on January 17 as he returned to Russia from Germany, where he had spent nearly five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.

Mr Biden has previously condemned the use of chemical weapons.

Russian authorities deny the accusations.

 

Owners and staff of the closed restaurants prepare a national protest in front of the Council of Ministers building at 12:00 today, their demand is to start working from February 1. The action is under the motto "March to Freedom" and is organized by the two associations of restaurants in Bulgaria.  Days ago, the restaurateurs also requested the resignation of Health Minister Kostadin Angelov.

The organizers of the protest believe that the pandemic is mismanaged and this deprives them of their right to work. And without satisfactory decisions on compensations at that.

The industry is discriminated against and therefore mounts a protest, announced the Chairman of the Association of Restaurants Emil Kolarov:

"The only thing we want is to work. We don‘t understand why we remain closed, as it is clear, after all the restaurants in hotels have been working for a month now, there is no increase in morbidity."

Both organizations demand the resignation of Health Minister Kostadin Angelov, who, in their words, is waging a personal war with the restaurants and categorically state that political figures have no place in the protest."

Owners of restaurants in Stara Zagora and Burgas also are ready to participate in today's protest in Sofia.

More than 80 representatives of the Association of Hoteliers and Restaurateurs from Velingrad will participate in the protest, but with other demands, said the Deputy Chairman of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association Zlatko Zlatanov:

 "The protest is against the Minister of Health, and we are absolutely against it. Ministry of Labor and Social Policy – they must take their blame for the disastrous situation in our industry. There's no way we can ask when to open or when to close. We can't do that! We want the compensations not to be below BGN 24, but to be up to a European standard. We do not insist on opening today."

 

 

An earthquake measuring 3,4 on the Richter scale was registered this morning in North Macedonia, European Seismological Center reported.

The quake occurred at 7:44 local time at 15 km from the town of Gostivar and was at a depth of 4 km. No damages or casualties have been reported.

“I'm puzzled. The protest announced today looks a bit like a street fight – he who has no other arguments strikes first. Yesterday, I issued an order in which clearly says that the restaurants are opening on March 1,”stated Health Minister Prof.Kostadin Angelov before Nova TV. He reiterated that the responsibility for people's health rests with the Minister of Health and he will not tire of fighting for the health of every single citizen.

Angelov was adamant that every vaccine that came to Bulgaria was immediately administered to a willing Bulgarian citizen listed for the relevant vaccination phase.

There is no point in this type of comparison, he replied, when asked why there are six times less vaccinated in our country than in Romania, for example.

The quantities of vaccines that come do not depend on Bulgaria, Angelov stressed and announced that by the end of February our country will receive 261,997 doses, with which 130,000 Bulgarian citizens will be vaccinated.

He again mentioned the government's conservative approach – to keep a second dose of every vaccine that is given. If we did not do this, we would now ask why we have 17 thousand Bulgarians who have not been vaccinated, Angelov stressed.

The Minister specified that according to the indicative figures to date, 12 million doses of vaccines of the six producer companies are agreedand assured that there will be enough doses for every Bulgarian citizen.

The doses that have been ordered by the moment have been ordered by the EC and they correspond to a percentage meantfor Bulgaria. Everything that has been allocated will be received, Angelov repeated.

The number of people willing immunization during the first phase of the vaccination program is decreasing, Angelov announced and reminded that from today the vaccination of people in nursing homes begins.

All willing Bulgarian citizens can be vaccinated by the end of the year. It all depends on people's desire. Yes, by the end of the year we will have enough vaccines, Angelov said, and continued: “Mass vaccination can start as early as March – it depends on the people’ wish.”

Regarding the scarves and helmets, which by his order will no longer be an option for protection, Angelov commented that with surgical masks and with those with a higher degree of protection, people are given the opportunity to have a choice.

Commenting on his words that the restaurants were not a priority Angelov answered that he had not said anything wrong and was clearly misunderstood.

 

 In the past 24 hours, 827 new cases of coronavirus infection have been documented in Bulgaria.

15,656 tests were made - 4088 PCR, 11568 antigen. Positive tests are 5.3%.

As of January 27, there were 26,505 active cases.

2,324 people were vaccinated during the day, as the total number of people immunized against COVID-19 is now 29,122.

The disease claimed the lives of 36 people, 868 recovered.

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, there have been 8,916 deaths, 180,995 patients recovered.

As of 27 January, 2,818 people with coronavirus infection are being treated in hospitals across the country, and 281 patients are in intensive care wards.

The total number of confirmed carriers of the coronavirus in Bulgaria is 216,416, of which 9,443 are medics.

Most of the newly registered cases are in Sofia, Plovdiv, Haskovo.

Statistics of the day by regions: Blagoevgrad - 52 new cases, Burgas - 59, Varna - 30, Veliko Tarnovo - 23, Vidin - 5, Vratsa - 25, Gabrovo - 4, Dobrich - 12, Kardzhali - 17, Kyustendil - 24, Lovech - 5, Montana - 6, Pazardzhik - 37, Pernik - 16, Pleven - 26, Plovdiv - 92, Razgrad - 7, Ruse - 9, Silistra - 16, Sliven - 41, Smolyan - 7, Sofia-city - 169, Sofia-region - 27, Stara Zagora - 26, Targovishte - 5, Haskovo - 61 , Shumen - 13, Yambol - 13.

9,160 people remain in quarantine, data from the Single Information Portal show.

 

From 1 February in indoor public places it is mandatory to wear protective masks, disposable or for multiple use, reads a second order signed by Health Minister Kostadin Angelov on January 26. The other pertains to the school order for students who return to in-person form of learning and to requiring a negative test when entering the country.

From 1 February to 30 April, all citizens must wear a protective face mask in closed public places, including public transport. The same requirement applies to open public spaces where crowding cannot be avoided.

This means that the possibility of using helmets or other means covering the nose and mouth instead of a mask is ruled out.

An exception is allowed for customers of dining establishments when visits to the latter are allowed.

The exception is also made for people practicing sports, children up to 6 years of age, as well as for those speaking during seminars, press conferences, etc.

It will be cold today with snowfalls and snowdrifts in many places. Code orange is declared for nine regions, seven regions are with code yellow.

It will be cloudy over the whole country with temperatures close to 0 C that will not change throughout the day.

In the afternoon snowfalls will stop in the western parts of Bulgaria but in the east and in the mountains it will still snow.

In the eastern regions blizzards and snowdrifts are expected.

North-northwestern wind will be moderate rising to strong in the northeastern regions. Daytime highs will vary from -2C to 3C, lows are from -4C to 1C.  

Code orange for heavy snowfalls and snowdrifts is in effect in the regions of Targovishte, Razgrad, Shumen, Silistra, Dobrich, Varna, Burgas, Sliven, Yambol.

Code yellow is declared for Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Lovech, Gabrovo, Stara Zagora, Haskovo, Kardzhali.

 

 

The snowfall, which started during the day in Western Bulgaria, intensified in the evening, moving east. The Troyan-Karnare pass is closed for traffic of all motor vehicles, the Regional Road Administration in Lovech announced.

The reason is heavy snowfall, strong wind and reduced visibility. The movement of vehicles over 12 tons on the road Ruse - Shumen is temporarily restricted due to heavy snowfall and snow removal.

For the same reason, the movement of trucks over 12 tons with trailers and semi-trailers through the Rozhen and Prevala passes is restricted, the Road Agency announced. Heavy trucks pass through the Republic Pass only with chains. A "yellow code" for hazardous snowfall was announced across the country today.

Tomorrow in Eastern Bulgaria the danger warning has been raised by one degree to "orange code" and in addition to the snowfall there will be a strong wind. This applies to nine districts - Dobrich, Varna, Burgas, Silistra, Shumen Razgrad, Targovishte, Sliven and Yambol.

The lower degree of danger "yellow code" has been declared for the central regions also for snowfall and strong wind. Yellow code is valid for the districts of Ruse, Lovech, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo, Stara Zagora, Haskovo and Kardzhali.

European Union called for tight controls on coronavirus vaccine exports after top officials  accused U.K.-based AstraZeneca of cutting supplies intended for EU countries in order to sell doses to other nations at higher prices.

The move came after two contentious vaccine steering board meetings between EU and national officials and representatives of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical conglomerate, which informed Brussels on Friday that vaccine production would fall far short of its contractual obligations to the EU.

Furious EU officials said the company had failed to explain the situation.

"Discussions with @AstraZeneca today resulted in dissatisfaction with the lack of clarity and insufficient explanations," EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides tweeted after the second meeting attended shortly before 10 p.m. "EU Member States are united: vaccine developers have societal and contractual responsibilities they need to uphold."

She announced that another meeting will take place Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Kyriakides announced the plans for the next export controls, while making clear the Commission's suspicions that AstraZeneca had shipped vaccine elsewhere.

"The European Union wants to know exactly which doses have been produced by AstraZeneca and where exactly so far and if or to whom they have been delivered," Kyriakides said, adding that the Commission's proposed export mechanism would require any company to disclose in advance any intended international shipments of vaccine doses manufactured in the EU.

A Commission official said the proposal for a new export control would require companies to seek approval before shipping vaccines internationally, except for humanitarian reasons. The restriction would be similar to limitations the EU imposed last spring on exports of personal protective equipment when supplies were scarce.

AstraZeneca did not issue any statement in response to the Commission's criticism, nor did it respond to repeated requests for comment about the production shortfall.

The Commission's swift move to impose the new export oversight, and the willingness of officials to go public with their anger at the company, highlighted how access to vaccines has become the highest-voltage political issue for public leaders as the pandemic continues to rage, with record numbers of infections and extended or renewed lockdown measures in many countries.

In a further sign of how urgent the issue has become, AstraZeneca's vaccine has yet to be formally approved by the European Medicines Agency. That formal step is expected later this week, but the arrival of the vaccine is so highly-anticipated that some EU leaders had pushed during a European Council tele-summit on Thursday for shipments to begin in expectation of approval.

One EU diplomat said AstraZeneca gave two reasons for the production shortfall, related to materials sourcing and manufacturing problems at a plant in Belgium, but the diplomats said the company had failed to substantiate those claims with evidence. That led to speculation among Commission officials and EU national officials that AstraZeneca had shipped doses manufactured in Belgium to other customers, only to realize that production was not moving fast enough to meet contractual obligations to the EU, which had made a prepayment running into the hundreds of millions of euros.

"Trust has been severely shaken," a Commission official said, adding: "To this day, it has not been fully explained what happened to the money and what has the company done on its obligation to manufacture at risk."

Another Commission official said that throughout Monday, the company repeated they’re “doing their best” again and again without any further details to increase the production. The official called their explanations "nonsense."

The blow from AstraZeneca, however, is both worse in its scale and its ramifications. Many EU countries chose not to order their full pro-rata allocation of mRNA vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna because they were too difficult to use and costly, choosing instead to bet on the British vaccine, which is cheaper and logistically easier to handle.

For most of the global vaccine race, Oxford/AstraZeneca was viewed as the frontrunner, being one of the first to start clinical trials, pledging to sell its vaccine at cost, and promising EU capitals a far easier serum to use compared to mRNA jabs. 

But AstraZeneca is now looking like an increasingly bad bet, and new questions have been raised about the vaccine's efficacy in people over the age of 65.

Germany’s health ministry has decided to hold off administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to seniors until there is proof of its efficacy among the over-65s, according to a person familiar with the ministry’s thinking. That means Germany will be forced to rely more on the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, which is in short supply, to protect its most vulnerable population.

More than 100,000 people have died with Covid-19 in the UK, after 1,631 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were recorded in the daily figures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he took "full responsibility" for the government's actions, saying: "We truly did everything we could."

"I'm deeply sorry for every life lost," he said.

 A total of 100,162 deaths have been recorded in the UK, the first European nation to pass the landmark.

Earlier, figures from the ONS, which are based on death certificates, showed there had been nearly 104,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

 Mr Johnson told Tuesday's Downing Street news conference that it was "hard to compute the sorrow contained in this grim statistic".

He gave his "deepest condolences" to those who had lost loved ones, including "fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and the many grandparents who've been taken".

 The UK is the fifth country to pass 100,000 deaths, coming after the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.

 A surge in cases in recent weeks - driven in part by a new, fast-spreading variant of the virus - has left the UK with one of the highest coronavirus death rates globally.

A further 20,089 coronavirus cases were recorded on Tuesday, continuing a downward trend in the number of UK cases seen in recent days. The number of people in hospital remains high, as do the UK's daily death figures.

 Under the current national lockdown, people in England must stay at home and only go out for limited reasons - including for food shopping, exercise, or work if they cannot do so from home. Similar measures are in place across much of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Reports in German media outlets that the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is less effective in older people appear to be unfounded, the German government said Tuesday.

German newspapers Handelsblatt and Bild reported Tuesday that the vaccine worked significantly less well in those over 65, and that this could affect whether the vaccine was authorised for this age group in EU countries. Bild had the efficacy figure at “less than 10%,” Handelsblatt at 8%.

The German health ministry said the reports appeared to have “mixed up” the data.

“At first glance it seems that the [newspaper] reports have mixed up two things: about 8% of those tested in the AstraZeneca efficacy study were between 56 and 69 [years old], only 3-4% over 70 (MHRA Approval Public Assessment Report),” the ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday, per the Financial Times.

“But one cannot deduce an efficacy of only 8% with older people from that.”

Even though the reports appear misguided, the EMA will not necessarily make the same rulings as UK regulators, and it has had more data from older people to look at.

“It has been known since the autumn that in the first studies that AstraZeneca submitted fewer older people took part than in the studies of other producers,” the ministry said, per the Financial Times.

Adam Finn, professor professor of Paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said in a statement to the Science Media Centre that elderly people were recruited to the UK phase-three trials relatively late and were relatively well shielded, so few cases of COVID-19 had occurred at the time of submission of data to regulators for approval.

“There may have been more by the time of EMA submission,” he said. “No idea where the 8% figure comes from.”

The University of Oxford, which co-developed that vaccine said in a statement that there was no basis for the claims of very low efficacy.

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on Tuesday extended his greetings to the people on the occasion of the 72nd Republic Day.
"Wishing all the people of India a Happy #RepublicDay. Jai Hind!" Prime Minister Modi tweeted. Meanwhile, security has been tightened in the national capital with police barricades mounted at various important places in the city including ITO, Yamuna Bridge and other locations ahead of the Republic Day parade.

India's military might, cultural diversity, social and economic progress will be on display during the 72nd Republic Day celebrations at the majestic Rajpath in the national capital today.

Apart from tableaus of Armed forces, 17 tableaus from different states and nine tableaus from different ministries/departments of the central government and Paramilitary Forces and six from the Ministry of Defence will also be on display during the annual parade.

The Republic Day Parade ceremony will commence with Prime Minister Modi visiting the National War Memorial. (ANI)

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has officially stepped down in order to try to form a government with wider support, and the consultations with the parties with a view to finding a new parliamentary majority will start on Wednesday afternoon, according to the official statement from the presidential palace.

"President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella received this morning the President of the Council of Ministers Giuseppe Conte, who handed in the resignation of the government that he presides. The president of the republic has decided to invite the government to remain in charge to handle the current affairs. The consultations [with the parties] will start in the afternoon of tomorrow, Wednesday, January 27," Ugo Zampetti, secretary of the presidency of the republic, said in a press statement. (ANI/Sputnik).

The EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, reaffirmed the clear and undeniable European perspective for North Macedonia at his meeting with the country's Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Dimitrov and Foreign Minister Bujar Osmany, who are visiting Brussels, according to the European External Action Service.

He has had a frank and open discussion with them about finding a solution to unblock accession negotiations, the EEAS added.

The three also discussed the privileged partnership between the EU and the Western Balkans against the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, including access to vaccines.

The EU has allocated EUR 70 million, of which EUR 8 million will be for North Macedonia to cover its costs for part of the vaccine jabs and to purchase the necessary vaccination equipment.

 

The rate at which ice is disappearing across the world matches "worst-case climate warming scenarios", UK scientists have warned in new research.

A team from the universities of Edinburgh and Leeds and University College London said the rate at which ice is melting across the world's polar regions and mountains has increased markedly in the last three decades.

Using satellite data, the experts found the Earth lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice between 1994 and 2017.

The rate of loss has risen from 0.8 trillion tonnes per year in the 1990s to 1.3 trillion tonnes per year by 2017, with potentially disastrous consequences for people living in coastal areas.

"The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)," said Dr Thomas Slater, a research fellow at Leeds' Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

"Sea level rise on this scale will have very serious impacts on coastal communities this century."

Input from United Nations' IPCC has been critical to forming international climate change strategies, including the 2015 Paris Agreement under which the majority of greenhouse gas emitting nations agreed to mitigate the impact of global warming.

The universities' research, published Monday in the European Geosciences Union's journal The Cryosphere, was the first of its kind to use satellite data.

It surveyed 215,000 mountain glaciers around the globe, polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, ice shelves floating around Antarctica, and sea ice drifting in the Arctic and Southern Oceans.

The survey found the largest losses in the last three decades were from Arctic Sea ice and Antarctic ice shelves, both of which float on the polar oceans.

While such ice loss does not directly contribute to sea rises, its destruction does stop the ice sheets reflecting solar radiation and thus indirectly contributes to rising sea levels.

"As the sea ice shrinks, more solar energy is being absorbed by the oceans and atmosphere, causing the Arctic to warm faster than anywhere else on the planet," Dr Isobel Lawrence said.

"Not only is this speeding up sea ice melt, it's also exacerbating the melting of glaciers and ice sheets which causes sea levels to rise," she added.

 

The requirement to present a negative SARS-CoV-2 test prior to arrival when travelling to Norway has been amended to require a test taken 24 hours prior to departure instead of 72 hours.

Furthermore, all persons who have been to the UK, South Africa, Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Brazil must undergo a PCR test at the Norwegian border.

The quarantine rules are being tightened and will now apply to arrivals from all countries, with fewer exemptions in place and increased requirements in terms of testing.

‘We are doing this in order to stop and delay the spread of the coronavirus mutations and more infectious variants here in Norway,’ says Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services.

The requirement to present a certificate documenting a negative SARS-Co V-2 test result prior to arrival to Norway is being amended to require that the test is taken within 24 hours of departure, rather than the previous 72 hours.

Persons who are travelling by plane can have test test done within the last 24 hours before scheduled departure time for the first part of the flight. The flight can be a direct flight to Norway or a continuous flight to Norway with stopovers at other airports. This will open for travellers from other continents with longer travel time.

At present, only persons who have been to the UK and South Africa are required to undergo a PCR test at the Norwegian border.

This requirement is now being extended to include Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Brazil. Additionally, persons who have been in these countries between 15–25 January must take a PCR test as soon as possible. Any positive result from a rapid Covid test taken at the border must be followed by a PCR test in the case of all travellers.

A PCR-test is necessary in order to do further analysis to establish if the sample contains one of the mutated and more contagious variations of the virus.

It is necessary to take a PCR test in order to enable further analyses of the sample to see whether it contains one of the mutations or more infectious variants of the coronavirus

Quarantine rules tightened and fewer exemptions

The quarantine rules are being tightened across the board. There will be fewer exemptions in the quarantine rules and an increase in the testing requirements that apply to persons subject to exemptions.

The following rules are changing:

  •   There will be stricter requirements applicable to the testing of personnel holding society-critical roles who have special exemptions from the requirements to quarantine upon arrival or in the event of infection. The overarching rule will now be that such persons must receive a negative test result from a SARS-Co-V-2 test using the PCR method before they begin working. This test must be taken no sooner than 72 hours after their arrival in Norway. In situations of urgency where it is not possible to await the result of a PCR test, a person may begin work after a negative test using a rapid test taken on the same day that work is due to be performed.
  •   The exemption from the requirements to quarantine through testing upon arrival for those travelling for work-related reasons in connection with international sporting competitions has been terminated until 31 January. The government will carry out a re-assessment of the situation prior to this date.
  •   Persons who are scheduled to work on board vessels in Norwegian ports must take a PCR test when being tested at the end of their quarantine period.
  •   The quarantine upon arrival rules for military personnel will also be tightened. Quarantine may be completed in groups of up to 5 persons, but the Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Medical Services may, at its discretion, determine that more persons may be included in such groups on a case-by-case basis and groups shall still be limited to no more than 30 persons.
  •   The current exemption from quarantine upon arrival for commuters who regularly arrive in Norway from Sweden and Finland and who undergo testing once every seven days is being amended to ensure that the exemption cannot be used by persons who have been in an area outside of Sweden and Finland that necessitates quarantine within a period of 10 days prior to their arrival.
  •   The exemptions from quarantine applicable to persons crossing the border to facilitate custodial obligations involving minors and their parents, and to persons who have been invited by the Norwegian state authorities to the country on foreign policy grounds are to be tightened. There is now a requirement to undergo testing 72 hours after arrival in order to be exempt from quarantine during working or school hours. Exemptions will no longer be available during leisure hours. Custodial access to children may be undertaken during quarantine.

 

 

Restaurants to reopen on March 1, and nightlife facilities 15 days later depending on the epidemic situation. This was agreed between Health Minister Kostadin Angelov and representatives of the industry.

The co-chair of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association Atanas Dimitrov explained:

"Compensations will be paid for the whole of February. If the restaurants open in February, no money will be paid to colleagues. This is what the proposal stems from.' 

The representatives of the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association asked the minister to ensure to the business predictability and possibility for planning.

At an extraordinary government meeting earlier, it was decided that the deadline for the country's emergency epidemic should be extended until April 30.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov also asked Minister Angelov to set the deadlines within which the individual grades between the 5th and 12th will return to in-person learning.

 

 

On January 26, the Bulgarian Red Cross and the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria gave an online press conference themed "Do it for those you love". With this event they launched an information campaign for COVID-19.

The special guests at the meeting were Acad. Hristo Grigorov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Red Cross, as well as H.E. Herro Mustafa, U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria.

The large-scale program "Activities in response to COVID-19" of the Bulgarian Red Cross is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and is supported by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

This program is important because it has shown that when we are together, the hand we give to people in need is very strong. It's important because it's reached thousands of people in our country. Nearly 30,000 socially disadvantaged citizens received hygiene products," said Acad. Hristo Grigorov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Red Cross.

"It is a real pleasure to note the partnership between the United States and the Bulgarian Red Cross. This afternoon I will visit the Bulgarian Red Cross in person. I've been in Bulgaria for a year and a few months now. Before I took office, I was prepared for thousands of situations. For a pandemic, however, there was no way to prepare. I think we all understand the importance of strengthening ties between the two countries.

You know I'm here with my two young daughters. Although we are guests of the country, we consider ourselves part of the Bulgarian people," said Herro Mustaha.

In her words, we must stand up and rebuild together in the course of fighting the pandemic.

"I am proud of the people working on the front line. We have already heard that at the early stages of the pandemic, the US government gave USD 500,000 to Bulgaria for the fight against coronavirus. We've been thinking about what else we can do. So we decided to realize an idea for cooperation between the Embassy, the America for Bulgaria Foundation, the Bulgarian Donor Forum and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria.

We launched the "Unite against COVID-19" campaign. We gave BGN 1 million, which was made available to 112 local organizations to help them overcome the crisis. Then we asked ourselves again what else we could do. That's how we created the "Healing Together" campaign," the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria said.

"The fight against coronavirus is the cause of whole society. It's an insidious pandemic, and if we don't stand together, it will crush us. The preventive measures are working. Let's hope it stays that way. The Red Cross is part of the society," said Krassimir Gigov, head of the National Vaccination Headquarters.

 "We have circulated a leaflet with information to all people in our country stressing the fact that before deciding on vaccination, they should consult their GP, contact specialists in the health ministry, regional health inspectorate and BRC," Mr. Acad.Hristo Grigorov said.

Asked how the government would respond to the vaccine delivery delay, head of the national vaccination headquarters Krasimir Gigov said: "Let's not forget that we received vaccines that make up for the previous shortage. By the end of July, we'll have over a million and a half doses. From the following month, immunization was stepped up, as a large amount of vaccines is now available. We'll move upward in the rankings," he added.

 

The support provided by the government to preserve jobs and to help businesses in Bulgaria amounts to nearly BGN 2 billion since the beginning of the pandemic. With the funds already paid out under the measures launched by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, amounting to around BGN 1 billion 300,000 jobs are saved and the risk of double increase in unemployment in the country is prevented.

As a result, at the end of last year, unemployment in Bulgaria reached the lowest rates since the lift of the state of emergency in May, and is currently also below 7%. The Ministry of Economy has allotted funds that have reached the businesses to the amount of BGN 550 million, with a further BGN 440 million are being currently paid off.

This was reported to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in the framework of a working meeting that the Prime Minister convened at the Council of Ministers with members of the government.

Economy Minister Lachezar Borisov pointed out that the implementation of a support plan by the National Revenue Agency, which also required legislative changes, is already underway. "8163 companies will receive nearly BGN 116 million under this measure.

The reserve list of micro-companies requesting support is also approved. More than 21,000 companies with BGN 173 million have already received aid. We promised the business that the reserve lists would also be reviewed. The payment to them is currently underway, with 3,354 micro companies receiving about BGN 26 million more", minister Borisov reported. As regards the procedure for medium-sized enterprises, invitations have already been sent to absolutely all companies that have successfully passed the assessment and the business is currently expected to present its financial reports and sign contracts.

Under this procedure, 1 703 draft proposals will be financed with a grant of BGN 233.6 million.

Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev pointed out that all measures are financed from the state budget, the European funds or the SURE instrument.

"Whatever measures to support both businesses and employment have been implemented, none of us have any claim that these measure can replace real business. These are measures that aim to preserve workers and businesses, not to compensate for normal turnover," Donchev said.

The Deputy Prime Minister also refuted the speculations about the government's priorities.

"Because there has been speculation about what is a priority and what is not – everything is our priority. Every company is our priority, every worker is our priority. And if restrictions are imposed somewhere, it's not because we have a more lenient attitude towards some sector. This is only in the case where their functioning conflicts with healthcare and poses risks to health and life", added Donchev.

After the working meeting, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov also convened an extraordinary government meeting, at which a decision was taken to extend the deadline of the emergency epidemic situation until April 30.

The Prime Minister ordered the Minister of Health to prepare an order clearly descripting the deadlines for the gradual loosening of the restrictive measures.

With regard to the work of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs, Prime Minister Borisosv asked the Health Minister to hold a meeting with their representatives and discuss possible solutions for the industry.

One option is to let them open as early as the beginning of February at 50% capacity and with working hours until 10.30pm, in which case there is a risk that they will be closed again if the epidemic situation worsens. Another option for restaurants, pubs and nightclubs is to open from 1 March and to support them until this date. /BGNES

 

 

The European Commission has announced that it is launching a European biosecurity program to combat pandemics and other potential biological threats. This was stated by EC President Ursula von der Leyen.

She spoke online at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"We are launching a biosecurity program in the EU that will work constantly, providing preparation for future pandemics and other threats of a biological nature. The program will have permanent funding so that there is no need to rechanneling funding from other spheres," Von der Leyen said.

She stressed that the program will be implemented in close cooperation with the leading pharmaceutical companies.

 

About 30% of the restaurants have gone bankrupt and will not open at all, and with each passing month this percentage grows, told bTV Richard Alibegov, President of the Bulgarian Association of Restaurants.

The associations of hotel- and restaurant-keepers in Bulgaria demanded resignation of Health Minister Kostadin Angelov because, in their words, "he is waging a war" against them.

"It is unacceptable for us that health authorities divide the industry in this way and say - in a hotel restaurant you can eat safely, and in the one opposite the hotel there is a danger of contracting coronavirus," Alibegov said.

At this point, the restaurant-keepers give up the idea of mounting a mass protest. In the words of Richard Alibegov, as the health minister "is finding fault with them", if they start working as an act of protest and the number of infected increases, they will be blamed for it.

"We have purely economic demands – to have the promised compensations paid to employees and to the businesses and to work. We distance ourselves from all parties and politicians. Yesterday we discussed with Sofia Directorate of Interior how the protest may proceed, so we hope to be heard," Alibegov said further.

He also said the business had not yet begun to get help. It is expected to start this week at long last.

'No direct aid to business has been received other than under the 80/20 payroll support measure. We've been waiting eight months for the payout to begin. It's a very bad situation and we're on edge. Therefore, I believe that a lot of people will gather at our protest rally," added Richard Alibegov.

  "We are well aware that even if they let us work at 50% capacity, we will not have more than 25% occupancy. But it's good to set the ball rolling little by little. February is generally a very difficult month and could be used for adaptation," he said.

 

During the forthcoming elections one major problem will arise again – the vote of Bulgarians abroad. There are less than 1 million Bulgarians living in other countries, not more, whereas some are talking about 2-3 million, said head of the Information Services Prof. Mihail Konstantinov before BNT.

“We do not know what the conditions will be for the vote, the elections will be held on the day of the Catholic Easter celebration. We have to think already now what must done,” he added.  

The active registration should start on April 4, i.e. the updating of voters lists. Three million voters will cast their ballots this year and this fact may be put to use. These people will help us update the voter lists,” Prof. Konstantinov proposed.  

“If someone’s name is not entered on the list this person will not automatically drop out, their names will be entered for the next election. Thus the Bulgarians will be sure that the lists are updated and there are no phantom voters,” the head of the Information Services commented.

There won’t be many vaccinated people by the election day given the slow pace of the vaccination process. Nevertheless, the number of active cases has plummeted by almost 4 times. If this trend continues we will have favorable conditions for the election,” Prof. Konstantinov said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Scientist Ognyan Minchev wrote on Facebook:

Instead of polishing their public propaganda skills the heads of Bulgaria’s two associations of restaurant-keepers should better compare the restrictive measures in Bulgaria with those introduced in all (without exception) European countries.

Then they will see that restaurants and other similar facilities are shut down everywhere, except for home delivery services, whereas schools are operating in-person or with partial restrictions. Why so? Because the Society can survive for a while without restaurants.

However, large groups of children deprived of peer-to-peer interaction, keeping parents busy to ensure their quality online learning (which is still only partially effective) are the problems that inflict long-term damage to Society and undermine its future.

It is only in extreme situations that children should not go to school. I understand the argument of the Bulgarian restaurateurs, “we are suffering huge losses”. But this is exactly the reason why the civilized European countries are paying generous compensations to businesses affected by the pandemic, hospitality and restaurant industry including, to provide a resource that will last these businesses through the pandemic and let them resume work afterwards.

If there is a problem in Bulgaria - it is certainly in the essence and the size of these compensations paid by the state. Unfortunately, the owners of the night and entertainment establishments are a powerful social group.

Their pressure over the State is much more arrogant and strong compared to pressure that teachers, or medics, or ordinary citizens may exert. That is why the anti-epidemic measures in Bulgaria are incomparable with those introduced, for instance, in Greece. Neither with those in Belgium, France or the UK.

This makes the life of people in Bulgaria easier set against the rest of Europe. Suffice it that it is not at the expense of the weaker, the vulnerable, all those who don’t make headlines. Or at the expense of the exhaustion and fatigue of the medical professionals many of whom have already fled Bulgaria. Because the hitherto “appreciation” of their labor by the state and the community have made many of them emigrate.

Hopefully the epidemic will help those who are at the helm of our health system sober up.   

 

  

Europe's battle against coronavirus entered a dangerous new phase this week as politicians pushed to tighten lockdown measures across the continent even after a weekend of rioting brought scenes of chaos to the Netherlands and Denmark amid warnings of 'civil war'. 

France is due to decide whether to bring in a third national lockdown this week as Prime Minister Jean Castex warned the situation there is 'worrying', with Italy's top medic also calling for a month-long national shutdown.

That is despite John Jorritsma, mayor of Eindhoven which was hit by its worst riots in almost four decades at the weekend, warning 'we're on our way to civil war' after new nationwide curfew measures sparked public outcry.

Meanwhile hopes that vaccines might provide a quick way out of the crisis all-but faded after France's Pasteur Institute was forced to scrap a jab it had been developing with US drug-maker Merck because it doesn't work.

The news came as AstraZeneca - whose jab has yet to be approved by EU regulators - announced it was cutting vaccine supplies to the continent by up to 60 per cent because of problems with supply chains, thought to be due to under-production at a factory in Belgium.

Head of the EU executive Ursula von der Leyen had a call with the firm on Monday to 'remind them of their commitments', but EU President Charles Michel admitted that vaccinating 70 per cent of Europe's population - the figure theoretically needed to ensure herd immunity - by the end of summer as planned will now be 'difficult'.

 

The US House of Representatives presented a single article of impeachment to the Senate on Monday accusing Donald Trump of inciting the storming of the Capitol, setting in motion the first-ever impeachment trial of a former president.

In a solemn procession, the nine House impeachment managers silently walked the article through the same ornate halls of Congress overrun by Trump supporters on January 6 and delivered it to the Senate.

Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland then read out the charge against Trump on the Senate floor, where the former president continues to enjoy significant support from Republican senators.

The Senate trial of the 74-year-old Trump, who was impeached by the Democratic-majority House on January 13 for an unprecedented second time, is to begin the week of February 8.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the 100 members of the Senate, who will act as jurors, will be sworn in on Tuesday and a summons issued to the former president.

Democrats and Republicans agreed to delay the start of the trial for two weeks to allow Trump to prepare his defense against the charge of "incitement of insurrection," and for the Senate to confirm President Joe Biden's cabinet appointees.

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts presided over Trump's previous Senate trial -- which ended with his acquittal -- but presiding this time will be the Senate president pro tempore.

The president pro tempore is the senior senator of the party with the majority in the Senate, currently the Democrats. Patrick Leahy, 80, who was elected to the Senate in 1974, holds the position.

Republican senator John Cornyn said having a senator serve as both judge and juror raised a conflict of interest, but another Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, dismissed his concerns.

"I've known Pat a long time," Graham said. "I believe and hope he'll be fair."

Leahy said he would take an oath to be impartial.

"The president pro tempore has historically presided over Senate impeachment trials of non-presidents," Leahy said in a statement.

"When presiding over an impeachment trial, the president pro tempore takes an additional special oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws," he said. "It is an oath that I take extraordinarily seriously."

- 'Must be held accountable' -

Biden, 78, eager to put Trump in the rear-view mirror and make progress in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and reviving the economy, has taken a hands-off approach to the impeachment.

Democratic representative Jerry Nadler, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said Monday that Trump "must be held accountable." 

"We must not give Donald Trump a pass for inciting a deadly insurrection on our Capitol," Nadler said.

"The House has done its job by impeaching Trump, and now the Senate must complete the task by ensuring that he is never again in a position to directly harm the United States."

Ten Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues in the House in voting to impeach Trump for inciting the crowd that stormed the Capitol while Congress was certifying Biden's November 3 election victory.

Five people died in the mayhem, including a police officer and a protester who was shot by Capitol police.

The House also impeached Trump a year ago for seeking to dig up political dirt on Biden from Ukraine, but he was acquitted by the Senate, where only a single Republican senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, voted for conviction.

- 'Get out of jail free card' -

While more Republican senators may vote to convict Trump this time, it seems unlikely at least 17 of them will do so.

Democrats control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, and a two-thirds majority is needed to convict Trump, who remains a powerful figure in the Republican Party.

If Trump is convicted, the Senate could bar him from holding office again, a move that would prevent him from running for president in 2024.

A number of Republicans have denounced the plans to try Trump in the Senate, and some have argued that the body has no authority to put a private citizen -- as Trump now is -- on trial.

Schumer dismissed that argument in remarks on the Senate floor on Monday.

"It makes no sense whatsoever," he said. "The theory that the Senate can't try former officials would amount to a constitutional 'get out of jail free card' for any president who commits an impeachable offense."

Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed he had won the election and summoned his supporters to Washington on January 6 for a rally that coincided with the certification of the results by Congress.

Following a speech by Trump, thousands of his supporters stormed the Capitol, fighting pitched battles with police and sending lawmakers into hiding.

Trump is facing potential legal jeopardy on numerous fronts, but he got welcome news on Monday when the Supreme Court shut down lawsuits claiming he had violated laws barring a president from accepting income from foreign sources.https://www.msn.com

 

On 26 January, the atmospheric pressure will rise slightly during the day, but will remain significantly lower than the average for the month.

The wind will again blow from the northwest, in eastern Bulgaria - from the north, in the afternoon wind will rise and will sweep in cold air. It will be cloudy with light snowfalls, in the southern and eastern regions of the country it will rain. In the afternoon, the snowfall will stop.

By 2 p.m., temperatures will be between 1°C and 6°C, higher in eastern Bulgaria - up to 10°-12°C. In the early hours of Wednesday in eastern Bulgaria the rain will turn into snow, as the strong northern wind will cause blizzards and snowdrifts, according to the forecast of the national weather service.

In the mountains it will be cloudy and foggy with snowfalls and southwestern wind, which around noon will blow from the north rising to strong. Then the cold front will sweep in. The maximum temperature at a height of 1,200 meters will be about 3°C, at 2,000 meters - about -4°C.

Over the Black Sea coast the sky will be overcast. In the afternoon, rain will start, which by midnight will turn into snow. Moderate to strong south-southwestern wind in the evening will change direction to the north, rise to strong and bring in cold air. Maximum air temperatures will be 10°-13°C. The seawater temperature is 8°-10°C. Sea State is 2-3.

 

The sooner the vaccines are available on the commercial market, the better, told Nova TV Vasil Velev of the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria. Our delivery sources do not have to be limited. He reminded that the EC said that Bulgaira can authorize vaccines on a national level. That's what Hungary did with the Russian vaccine. Business community insists on registering more vaccines and making the vaccination process proceed faster. In Velev's words, enterprises should have free hand to vaccinate their employees.

According to business’ reps, the state support measures are not effective. Employers are worried that compensations for the first wave of pandemic have not yet been paid. The businessmen have drawn up their own measures, which have been proposed to the Minister of Economy.

We remind that yesterday at a press conference, Bulgaria‘s top businessmen presented the guild‘s priorities for 2021. Vasil Velev was adamant that the businesses do not want to receive aid, they want to work.

Last week, restaurateurs said they set the end of the week as a deadline for a decision in their favor. They insist on opening from February 1, otherwise they are ready for protests.

Health Minister Kostadin Angelov was not inclined to agree with the demands for opening the public eating facilities in February and said that if people want to go to restaurants at all they must be alive and well. It has previously become clear from the words of Prime Minister Borissov that even if there is a loosening of measures from February 1, it is on the condition that there may be a new tightening at any time if needed.

Because of the  government’s refusal the restaurant owners,  are planning to stage an open air disco as an act of protest in front of the Council of Ministers building on January 27.

At the yesterday's working meeting of the Prime Minister and the National Operational Headquarters it was made clear that from the beginning of February the gyms, sports facilities, dancing clubs and cultural institutions, as well as the shops located in the malls, will be reopened. For now, however, the public dining facilities are not expected to reopen.

 

In the past 24 hours, 60 people died of coronavirus in Bulgaria, show the data from the Single Information Portal.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 8,880 people have died of Covid-19.

On January 25,the newly infected were 772 in 13,540 tests. The data show that 5.7% of tests are positive. A total of 215,589 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed since March.

As of January 26, the active cases are 26,582. Of them 2,822 people are in hospitals for treatment, of which 279 are in intensive care.

The national system documented1,059 as cured in in the last 24 hours and their total number was 180,127.

Yesterday, 655 were vaccinated and since the start of vaccination program on 27 December they have been 26,798 in total.

There are no regions in Bulgaria that do not report new cases of infection. The largest number of new cases were detected in the capital Sofia - 180, Plovdiv - 91, Burgas - 43, Stara Zagora - 40, Shumen - 37.

The caseload update by regions: Blagoevgrad - 20, Varna - 31, Veliko Tarnovo - 22, Vidin - 3, Vratsa - 26, Gabrovo - 8, Dobrich - 4, Kardzhali - 13, Kyustendil - 24, Lovech - 11, Montana - 5, Pazardzhik - 24, Pernik - 13, Pleven - 33, Razgrad - 9, Ruse - 23, Silistra - 11, Sliven - 31, Smolyan - 14, Sofia region - 19, Targovishte - 4, Haskovo - 23, Yambol - 10.

 

 

 

 

Today the Commission is proposing additional safeguards and requirements for international travellers into the EU. New coronavirus variants and the volatile health situation worldwide call for further action to ensure that any travel to the EU takes place safely. To reflect the latest scientific advice, the Commission is also proposing updated criteria taking into account the testing rate, testing positivity and detection of variants of concern when deciding on the application of restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU to a specific non-EU country.  

Additional safeguards on travel from outside the EU 

Member States should introduce additional measures to ensure that travel into the EU takes place safely. This concerns those travelling to the EU for essential reasons, EU citizens and long-term residents as well as their family members, and those travelling from countries for which the non-essential travel restriction was lifted: 

  • Mandatory testing before departure: Member States should require travellers to have undertaken a negative COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test before departure, and submit a proof of such a negative test. The test should be taken at the earliest 72 hours before departure; EU citizens, residents and their family members should have the possibility to take the test after arrival. Mandatory testing can be combined with a requirement of self-isolation, quarantine and contact tracing as well as additional testing as needed for a period of up to 14 days, provided that the Member State imposes the same requirements on its own nationals when travelling from the same non-EU country. Exceptions could be decided for some categories of essential travellers if such requirements would impede the very purpose of the travel. In particular, transport and cross-border workers should be exempted from the requirement to present a negative PCR test and may only be requested to present a negative Rapid Antigen Test on arrival. There are also specific rules for aircrew.   
  • Stricter measures to address virus variants of concern: For trips originating from countries where a variant of concern of the virus has been detected, Member States should systematically impose safety measures such as self-isolation, quarantine and contact tracing for a period of up to 14 days. In particular, travellers should be required to quarantine and take additional tests upon or after arrival.  
  • Common European Passenger Locator Form: Member States should require those entering the EU to submit a Passenger Locator Form in accordance with applicable data protection requirements. A common European Passenger Locator Form should be developed for this purpose.  

Updated criteria  

When considering whether to lift restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU from a non-EU country, the Council should consider the case notification rate, the testing rate, the test positivity rate, as well as the incidence of variants of concern. The following criteria should apply, reflecting the most recent scientific advice: 

  • 14-day cumulative COVID-19 case notification rate (i.e. total number of newly notified COVID-19 cases per 100 000 population in the previous 14 days at regional level) not higher than 25; 
  • Testing rate (i.e. number of tests for COVID-19 infection per 100 000 population carried in the previous seven days) superior to 300; 
  • Test positivity rate (i.e. percentage of positive tests among all tests for COVID-19 infection carried out in the previous seven days) not higher than 4%; 
  • Nature of the virus present in the country, in particular whether variants of concern of the virus have been detected.

Member States should also continue to take account of the reciprocity granted to EU countries.  

In addition to these updates on travel from outside the EU, the Commission is also presenting today a proposal to update the Council Recommendation coordinating measures affecting free movement within the EU.  

Next steps 

It is now for the Council to consider this proposal. A first discussion is scheduled in the Council’s integrated political crisis response (IPCR) meeting taking place this afternoon. Once the proposal is adopted, it will be for Member States to implement the additional safeguards it sets out and review the list of non-EU countries from where restrictions should be lifted in light of the updated criteria. The Council should continue reviewing the list of countries exempted from the travel restriction every 2 weeks, and update it where relevant.  

Background  

A temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU is currently in place from many non-EU countries. The Council regularly reviews, and where relevant updates, the list of countries from where travel is possible, based on the evaluation of the health situation. The Council last updated that list on 17 December 2020

This restriction covers non-essential travel only. Those who have an essential reason to come to Europe should continue be able to do so, subject to the safeguards outlined in the proposal. That includes categories of travellers listed in Annex II of the Council Recommendation. EU citizens and long-term residents as well as their family members should also be allowed to enter the EU. Today’s proposal does not change the categories of travellers exempted from the restriction.  

To assist Member States in consistently applying the restriction, the Commission issued on 28 October 2020 guidance on categories of persons considered to be essential travellers and therefore exempted from restrictions. 

On 19 January, ahead of the meeting of European leaders on a coordinated response to the coronavirus crisis, the Commission set out a number of actions needed to step up the fight against the pandemic.  

At their videoconference meeting of 21 January 2021, EU Heads of State or Government acknowledged that the Council may need to review its recommendations on non-essential travels into the EU in light of the risks posed by the new virus variants. Following the meeting, President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the Commission would propose additional safety measures for essential travel from outside the EU.   

Today’s proposal updates the Council recommendation on the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU. 

The latest information on the rules applying to entry from non-EU countries as communicated by Member States are available on the Re-open EU website.  

 

Starting from tomorrow, Finland will only grant entry to Finnish citizens and those with a registered right of residence in Finland. All others, including Estonians who go to Finland to work but are not in this category, will not be allowed into the country in line with the decision of the government of Finland.

Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said: "You must be aware that everyone wishing to go to Finland can still do so today, however, starting from tomorrow, only Finnish citizens and those with a registered right of residence in Finland are admitted. For example, if an Estonian citizen is working in Finland but has no registered right of residence there, starting from tomorrow, they will not be allowed to enter Finland. Those with a registered right of residence must keep in mind that as of tomorrow, the obligation to self-isolate applies to everyone arriving in Finland."

The international transport of goods between Estonia and Finland will continue and it is exempt from restrictions on movement, however, you must be aware of delays and have patience. More information is available on the websites of Finnish authorities (Border Guard and government).

"The Finnish Border Guard will be able to allow border crossings for work only on substantial grounds, for example, for ensuring the movement of goods, or providing vital services," Estonian foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said Tuesday evening.

It also means that anyone entering Finland from March 19 will be subject to a 14-day quarantine period. This measure was already in place in Estonia from March 17.

Many people commute regularly to Finland from Estonia to work, and they must make a decision which side of the Gulf of Finland to stay on.

If you have plane tickets to Estonia from a more distant location (and a right to enter Estnonia) and wish to travel through Finland, as of now, the citizens of Estonia and other European Union member states can transit through Finland. More details about the practical circumstances of transit after border closures are currently being clarified.

Starting from March 19, Sweden will also suspend non-essential entries into the country; however, this does not apply to citizens of the European Union.

Therefore, if you are returning from a more distant location, you can travel through Sweden, but keep in mind tat regular ferry traffic between Stockholm and Tallinn has been suspended.

You can come to Estonia from Stockholm with a special Tallink ship, from Kapellskär to Paldiski or with a Tallink or Viking Line ship from Stockholm to Turku and then to Tallinn.

 

“Social robots like me can take care of the sick or elderly,” Sophia says as she conducts a tour of her lab in Hong Kong. “I can help communicate, give therapy and provide social stimulation, even in difficult situations.”

Since being unveiled in 2016, Sophia - a humanoid robot - has gone viral. Now the company behind her has a new vision: to mass-produce robots by the end of the year.

Hanson Robotics, based in Hong Kong, said four models, including Sophia, would start rolling out of factories in the first half of 2021, just as researchers predict the pandemic will open new opportunities for the robotics industry.

“The world of COVID-19 is going to need more and more automation to keep people safe,” founder and chief executive David Hanson said, standing surrounded by robot heads in his lab.

Hanson believes robotic solutions to the pandemic are not limited to healthcare, but could assist customers in industries such as retail and airlines too.

“Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like,” he added. “That can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.”

Hanson said he aims to sell “thousands” of robots in 2021, both large and small, without providing a specific number.

Social robotics professor Johan Hoorn, whose research has included work with Sophia, said that although the technology is still in relative infancy, the pandemic could accelerate a relationship between humans and robots.

“I can infer the pandemic will actually help us get robots earlier in the market because people start to realise that there is no other way,” said Hoorn, of Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Hanson Robotics is launching a robot this year called Grace, developed for the healthcare sector.

Products from other big players in the industry are helping fight the pandemic as well. SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper robot was deployed to detect people who weren’t wearing masks. In China, robotics company CloudMinds helped set up a robot-run field hospital during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.

The use of robots was on the rise before the pandemic. According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics, worldwide sales of professional-service robots had already jumped 32% to $11.2 billion between 2018 and 2019.

Some humans might be wary of putting robots in such sensitive roles. When asked whether people should fear robots, Sophia had an answer ready.

“Someone said ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself’,” the robot mused. “What did he know?”/Reuters

 

 

From February 4, in-person learning for school students from 5th to 12th grade will be resumed under a strictly defined order. From the beginning of February, the gyms, sports facilities, dancing clubs, as well as the stores in large shopping centers will open doors again.

Prime Minister Borisov ordered the Health Minister to hold a meeting with the representatives of restaurants and nightclubs and to discuss again possible options for their functioning.

This transpired earlier today after the working meeting that the Prime Minister convened at the Council of Ministers with representatives of the National Operative Headquarters, vaccination staff and cabinet members.

 


The Bulgarian business community presented its priorities for 2021. The first national priority for business is the country's admission to the OECD, announced at a press conference Vasil Velev, Chairman of the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria. Our priority remains the Schengen area and our membership in the Euro zone.

The business does not want to receive aid, we want to work, Velev said commenting on loosening the anti-epidemic measures. Employers' impatience over the facte that the restrictive measures are not laxed is well founded.

According to the Chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce Radosvet Radev, there was neither business nor business environment. Tsvetan Simeonov commented that the business community supports the loosening of the measures and pointed out that on the eve of the New Year holidays there was a slight relaxation, and no drastic jump in the infection rate occurred. It's been a monstrous year, he said. Every month the situation was different, in his words. About 89% of companies see a deterioration in the business climate due to the coronavirus, as 70% have reported worse economic performance. The deterioration of the business climate is also due to the sluggish work of the institutions. The problems, in Radev's words, also come from inept legislation. About 56% of companies refuse making any investment, he said. Business wants to preserve the current tax system. Radosvet Radev is worried about an avalanche of bankruptcies.

Social spending is more than it should be, he says. The situation caught us unawares because the e-management program was not completed. Fighting cartels and monopolies remains a priority for business.

Kiril Domuschiev, Chairman of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIB), pointed out that this year energy issues are still the focus in the work of the business. Last year, no progress was made in energy reform. A National Agreement to provide liquidity to the market needs to be drawn up and signed urgently, he believes.

It is very important to adopt a balanced national energy strategy, Domuschiev said. Another important step is to ensure connectivity, set up market associations in order to achieve optimal balancing of electricity prices, according to the Chairman of CEIB. In addition, a mechanism for holding power facilities auctions must be developed and notified before EC.

A national program for reconstruction of the Maritsa-Iztok complex should also be prepared, said Kiril Domuschiev. The authority of theState Energy and Water Regulatory Commission should be expanded, it should have the right to investigate and sanction market abuses and monitor market concentration.

Tsvetan Simeonov from the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry insists on the development of a national program for the resettlement in Bulgaria of citizens of Bulgarian origin from third countries. In addition, the business community insists on the keeping at home the Bulgarians who returned because of the pandemic. However, necessary conditions should be created to make them stay in Bulgaria.



Given the snail’s pace at which the health authorities in Bulgaria have been vaccinating against coronavirus recently, the European target of vaccinating 70% of the total adult population will be achieved in August 2040. The European Commission recommends that it should be done by the end of summer 2021.

The calculations are by the Brussels-based Politico newspaper and aims to illustrate how slowly the placement of vaccines in the EU begins in the first month of the campaign. The conclusion is based on the average number of vaccinated daily in the last 7 days prior to the publication on January 22.

In case of Bulgaria we are talking about 1,139 doses and if the country wants by 22 September 2021 to achieve the goal of administering 2 doses until the minimum threshold for collective immunity is reached, it will have to scale up the number of daily vaccinations 29 times - to 33,368 doses per day.

This is not a prognosis, because it does not include the expected hundreds of thousands of doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines that Bulgaria expects in the coming months. The expected on January 29 approval of AstraZeneca's product, and other vaccine candidates in the coming months was not taken into account. The problem of Pfizer's reduced supplies, which according to manufacturer will resume from February 15, has not been accounted for in this analysis either.

A change in vaccination rates is also expected to result from the government’s decision to pay each medic a BGN 10 bonus for each dose given.

Given this approach, the calculation shows that at the end of September Bulgaria will have vaccinated 3% of the target groups. The optimistic prognosis (according to director of the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases Todor Kantardzhiev) of Boyko Borissov’s government of is for 2 million vaccinated Bulgarians by the end of August, which is only a little over half of those 70% of the adult population.

Yet the differences in how they started, albeit on different dates since Christmas, national vaccination campaigns show impressive gaps among the countries.

Of all the EU countries, small Malta performs best in terms of the pace - if it maintains the same pace by 22 September it will have protected 37% of the group and by May 2022 it will have vaccinated 70% of the adult population. Many will be surprised, but the second is Romania - 26% vaccinated by September 22 and the end of the campaign in December 2022.

Other countries need to think about the slow start too - in order to achieve the goal Latvia needs to increase the doses placed every day 17 times, Italy - 10 times, Hungary - 9. The EU-wide average is 5 times.

 

 

 


 


 


Mainly driven by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, global foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2020 slipped by 42% year-on-year to $859 billion, according to the UN's trade and development body.

Last year's figure was down from $1.5 trillion in 2019, more than 30% below the investment trough that followed the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the UN Conference on Trade and Development said on Sunday.

The largest decline in FDI was seen in developed countries, plummeting by 69% to $229 billion during the same period.

The US posted a 49% annual decrease in FDI to $134 billion last year. The decline took place in wholesale trade, financial services and manufacturing.

Noting that investment to Europe dried up, the report said FDI flows fell by two-thirds to minus $4 billion in the continent.

Although FDI collapsed in major European economies such as the UK -- FDI fell to zero -- last year, overall performance masks a few regional bright spots, it underlined.

"Sweden, for example, saw flows double from $12 billion to $29 billion. FDI to Spain also rose 52%, thanks to several acquisitions, such as private equities from the United States Cinven, KKR and Providence acquiring 86% of Masmovil," it noted.

Developing economies attracted 72% of global FDI with $616 billion in 2020, the highest share on record, despite seeing 12% decrease year-on-year.

"The fall was highly uneven across developing regions: -37% in Latin America and the Caribbean, -18% in Africa and -4% in developing countries in Asia," it said.

China was the world's largest FDI recipient last year, with flows rising by 4% to $163 billion thanks to a return to positive GDP growth (+2.3%) and the government's targeted investment facilitation program.

Bleak outlook expected in 2021

Despite projections for the global economy to recover in 2021, FDI flows are expected to remain weak due to uncertainty over COVID-19's evolution and the global investment policy environment, it said.

The report forecast that any increases in global FDI flows in 2021 would come not from new investment in productive assets but from cross-border mergers and acquisitions, especially in technology and health care.

"India and Turkey are attracting record numbers of deals in IT consulting and digital sectors, including e-commerce platforms, data processing services and digital payments."https://www.a.a.com.tr./en/economy

 

The first UK clinical trials of a nasal spray proven to kill 99.9% of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 will begin on January 11th at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in Surrey.

The SaNOtize Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) is designed to kill the virus in the upper airways, preventing it from incubating and spreading to the lungs.

The treatment, developed by SaNOtize Research and Development Corp. based in Vancouver, Canada, proved 99.9% effective in killing the coronavirus in independent lab tests at Utah State University’s Antiviral Research Institute.

Additional studies in rodents with COVID-19 infection showed over 95% reduction within the first day after infection. It is currently undergoing Phase II clinical trials throughout Canada approved by Health Canada, and in other countries.

The SaNOtize treatment is based on nitric oxide, a natural nanomolecule produced by the human body with proven anti-microbial properties shown to have a direct effect on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The treatment can be delivered by nasal spray, throat gargle or nasal lavage.

Lab tests on the SaNOtize treatment at Utah State University’s Antiviral Research Institute confirmed that the company’s Nitric Oxide Releasing Solution inactivated more than 99.9% of SARs-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, within two minutes.

Rodent studies performed at Colorado State University showed an average of over 95% reduction in SARS-CoV-2 viral load tested on the day following infection with half the rodents having no detectable virus at all. This was following inoculation with the virus and two treatments of SaNOtize’s nasal spray.

“Any intervention for treating coronavirus – the virus responsible for Covid-19 – is to be welcomed. The fact that a relatively easy and simple nasal spray could be an effective treatment is welcome news and offers a significant advance in our therapeutic armoury against this devastating disease. Ashford and St Peters Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is proud to be at the forefront of trialling this intervention,” said Pankaj Sharma MD PhD FRCP, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Research at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The importance of nitric oxide within the human body and its healing properties was first discovered by Prof Ferid Murad of Stanford University, among others, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998. Prof Murad is a member of the board of SaNOtize.

“Nitric oxide is an incredibly versatile molecule that regulates almost everything in our body,” Dr Murad said. “When used therapeutically, it has a well-documented safety profile and is demonstrated to be effective against a wide variety of viruses, bacteria and fungi. I’m excited to be working with the SaNOtize team and believe that they have a safe technology that could be effective in treating infections, including Covid-19.”

“The SaNOtize nasal spray provides a barrier. It contains nitric oxide which prevents and treats early infection by destroying the virus and impeding viral replication within the cells in the nose. In addition, nitric oxide has been shown to block the ACE-2 receptor essential for the virus to infect our cells. That is what makes our product unique and enables it to stand alone from any other nasal approach,” said Dr Chris Miller, chief science officer and co-founder of SaNOtize.

“It’s a safe technology that could be effective in treating infections, including Covid-19,” Dr Miller said. “Everybody just thinks you get the virus, and it gets into your lungs, and you die, but it’s a progression. First you get exposed to it, and the virus tries to attach to the cells in your nose, and it takes a while to incubate, and multiply in nasal cells for a few days and then the virus will shed into your lungs.”

“What we envision is cleansing the upper respiratory area at various points in the day. In the morning when you get up, where the virus has shed and started collecting in the back of your upper airway, first spray of the day, and then you go out into the day, and you can’t always control social distancing as we end lockdown, and so we have nasal sprays throughout the day. At the end of the day you come home and you basically rinse your nose and your nasopharynx, so that will clean your nose, your sinuses, and the back of your throat where these viruses initially reside,” Dr Miller said.

 

There’s probably not much German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government would like to adopt from Donald Trump presidency, but the treatment the former U.S. president received when diagnosed with Covid-19 last year appears to have caught her attention. 

Germany has purchased 200,000 doses of monoclonal antibody medication for 7 million, and next week the country will be the first in the European Union to use it, Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Sunday edition of the tabloid Bild.

“The injection of these antibodies can help prevent patients at risk in the early phase from developing a serious condition,” he said. The German Health Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by Bloomberg.

Trump received an experimental treatment from Regeneron Pharmaceutical Inc. in October after he was diagnosed with Covid-19. The then-president was so impressed that he said he wanted to make it available for free to Americans, which ultimately didn’t occur. At least some of the doses ordered by Germany also come from Regeneron, according to newswire DPA. 

Spahn, one of the possible successors to Merkel, has recently come under political pressure because of the slow rollout of Germany’s vaccination program in Germany. According to the Robert Koch Institute, 1.63 million Germans have so far been vaccinated, which is less than 2% of the country’s total population.

Sales outlets closed because of anti-epidemic measures insist on resuming work immediately, even at the cost of fewer workdays and limited working hours, reads a letter addressed to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, Finance Minister Kiril Ananiev and Economy Minister Lachezar Borisov, circulated by the Bulgarian Retail Association, which unites over 100 representatives of retail industry.

 Sales industry representatives agree to work five instead of seven days a week.

Over 85% of the retail stores, members of the association, are closed because they are located in large shopping centers. Because of the restrictive measures, the sector loses hundreds of millions of levs and calls on the government to save the sector from bankruptcy. Between 10 and 15 percent of the retailers in the country have already gone bankrupt, announced the chairman of the organization Marian Kolev.

 "The drop in turnover is up to 90%. The part of the aid that the state has promised and which has so far been absorbed is minimal."

Therefore, in their letter, the owners insist on the immediate opening of the shopping centers so that at least partly they can resume their activities or, if a new lockdown is imminent, it will be for everyone after the example of Europe, not discriminatory, Kolev added.

The organization is pushing for a revision of the measures imposed so far and immediate payment of the promised aids. For example, those 10 percent of traders who submitted documents on the first day of the support program launch have not yet received a single lev.

A protest in front of the Council of Ministers marked the 200th day since the beginning of the protests for resignation of the Government and the Chief Prosecutor Geshev. The anniversary protest was organized by the "System Kills Us" movement.

The protest began with the largo Square demanding the resignation of the prime minister. There was also criticism of all those who had initially "ridden" the protest, but now abandoned it and fought for political careers.

An attempt was made to enter the Council of Minister building, which was cut off by the police.

The protesters then went to the Courthouse to demand the resignation of the Attorney General.

With a peaceful procession, they walked around part of the pedestrian zone on Vitosha Boulevard and, making a circle, returned to the building of the Council of Ministers.

The pandemic has worsened income inequality, with the world's richest people regaining their losses in nine months while the number of people living in poverty has doubled to more than 500 million, according to a new report from the anti-poverty group Oxfam. 

The world's poorest could take a decade to regain their financial footing from the devastation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the study, which says the novel coronavirus has accelerated an ongoing trend toward widening income inequality. Oxfam's report will be released to coincide with the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda, set to take place online this year rather than its traditional gathering of global movers and shakers in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos.

America's richest people have seen their wealth soar during the pandemic by more than $1 trillion, thanks to a booming stock market and a K-shaped recovery that has benefited the rich, while poorer people have struggled with lost wages and jobs and future opportunities. It's a rich vs. poor phenomenon that is replicating across the globe. Oxfam describes the pandemic's impact as "the greatest rise in inequality since records began."

Oxfam called on the Biden administration and other governments around the world to address the inequalities caused by the pandemic. In the U.S, it said, a "multi-trillion-dollar economic recovery plan" is needed to help the tens of millions of Americans suffering from the economic impact of the pandemic. President Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package, although it hasn't yet been taken up by Congress.

"Now is not the time to tinker around the edges. We need big and bold action for a more dignified future where everyone can thrive, not just survive," Paul O'Brien, vice president of Oxfam America, said in a statement.

Economists in 79 countries who were surveyed by Oxfam said they projected their countries would experience an "increase" to a "major increase" in income inequality due to the pandemic. The economists who were surveyed included Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, Jayati Ghosh of the at University of Massachusetts Amherst and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley. 

Higher unemployment for women and people of color

The pandemic has especially exposed inequalities faced by women and people of color, who have suffered higher rates of unemployment during the pandemic. They are also more likely to work in industries with higher exposure to COVID-19 risks, such as service-based jobs in health care and restaurants. Women comprise 7 out of 10 workers in the global health and social care workforce, Oxfam noted.  

"Women and marginalized racial and ethnic groups are bearing the brunt of this crisis. They are more likely to be pushed into poverty, more likely to go hungry, and more likely to be excluded from healthcare," Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said in the statement. 

 

EU foreign ministers are to consider how to react following the jailing of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny and mass detentions at demonstrations across the country.

Three Baltic states are calling for sharper EU sanctions on Moscow, but most member states seem minded to wait a little longer before resorting to more restrictive measures ahead of Monday's talks.

Anti-corruption campaigner Navalny returned to Russia on January 18, after months in Germany receiving treatment following an assassination attempt with the nerve agent Novichok. The 44-year-old was sentenced to 30 days of pretrial detention at a snap trial.

But, in light of protests about Navalny's detention in cities throughout Russia at the weekend, change is in the air, according to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

"This is what makes Vladimir Putin so nervous, Landsbergis said on his way into talks with his EU counterparts in Brussels.

"That's why he detained 3,500 people in the streets. That's why he detained Mr Navalny. That's why he detained his wife," he said.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - which all used to be in the Soviet Union with Russia - want the EU to take a tough line on Moscow.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday condemned the treatment of protesters and called for their immediate release.

"Everyone has the right to express their opinion and to go to demonstrations according to the Russian constitution," he said. 

Navalny and his team have dismissed the allegations of parole violations as a politically motivated attempt to silence him. 

Navalny has blamed the chemical attack on Putin and the FSB intelligence service - charges which the Kremlin denies.



 

The National Operative Headquarters recommended a gradual loosening of anti-epidemic measures in Bulgaria.

During the working meeting that the Prime Minister convened at the Council of Ministers with representatives of the National Operative Headquarters (NOH), the vaccination staff and ministers the reps of NOH motivated their recommendation quoting the data which show that Bulgaria is currently in a very good position: thanks to the stringent preventive measures, the morbidity on a 14-day basis is less than 100 per 100,000 and Bulgaria now is one of the four European countries outside the so-called “red zone”. What is worrisome, though, is the spread of the novel strain of coronavirus, as it has been already detected in Bulgaria too.  

Health Minister Prof. Kostadin Angelov said that today an order will be issued for the mandatory PCR tests on entry into Bulgaria for all citizens coming from third countries and the European Union. The aim is to step-up the security of the Bulgarians with a view to the new version of the coronavirus.

The meeting confirmed the decision to resume in-person learning of school students from 5th to 12th grade under a strictly defined order as of 4 February. From the beginning of February, the gyms, sports facilities, dancing clubs, as well as the stores in the large shopping centers, will be reopened.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov ordered the Health Minister to hold a meeting with the representatives of restaurants, cafes and nightclubs and to discuss again possible options for resuming their functioning.

"Let them remember, however, that a month ago there were people who died in ambulances, seeking to be admitted to hospital. There were no beds in hospitals," the Prime Minster recalled, stressing that thanks to the measures taken, this had been overcome within weeks. In Borissov's words, if the restaurants resume work now and the number of those infected with coronavirus rises again, they will have to be closed once more, and in that case the state will find it more difficult to pay for their support, because notifications for this will still be needed.

Commenting on the implementation of the vaccination plan, Angelov reported that over 26,000 people have been immunized so far, with 4,610 already given the second dose of the vaccine. In some regions of the country, the vaccination of teachers will begin. The lists of those wishing to be vaccinated during the third phase of the vaccination plan are also being prepared.

The health minister also pointed out that in a maximum of 3-4 days after the arrival of the vaccines, half of the quantities are administered, and the other half is kept for after 21 days, for the second dose. "With these disrupted deliveries, we cannot afford risking people's health," the Prime Minister said.

The Executive Director of the Bulgarian Drug Agency Bogdan Kirilov announced that today more than 14,000 doses of vaccines have arrived in Bulgaria, which will immediately be put into use, and starting from next week the deliveries will be on a weekly basis. The decision of the European Medicines Agency for the third vaccine is also expected.

Kirilov also reported that there were sufficient supplies of Remdesivir, as well as of medical oxygen.

For their part, the Head of the National Operative Headquarters and Director of the Military Medical Academy Gen. Ventsislav Mutafchiiski and the Director of "Pirogov" emergency hospital Asen Baltov announced that the number of hospitalized patients and those in intensive care is decreasing in these medical institutions.

The Director of the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases and a member of NOH Todor Kantardzhiev noted that there is no medical evidence that the disease caused by new variant of the coronavirus takes more severe course, but it is certainly more contagious.

We remind that last week, restaurateurs said they set a deadline till the end of the week for a decision in their favor. They insist on opening from February 1, otherwise they are ready for protests.

Health Minister Kostadin Angelov was not inclined to agree with the demands for the restaurants to open and said that if people go to restaurants at all they must be alive and well. Prime Minister Borissov previously made it clear that even if there is a loosening of measures from February 1, it is on the condition that there may be a new tightening at any time.

Because of the government’s refusal the restaurateurs planned to stage a protest disco in front of the Council of Ministers on January 27.

Yesterday, representatives of the non-working businesses demanded the resignation of Minister of Labor and Social Policy Denitsa Sacheva because of the anti-epidemic measures.

 

 




 

 

This morning, another shipment of Pfizer vaccines,14,040 doses - arrived in Sofia Airport. They will make up for the amount that didn't arrive last week. Another 2,300 doses of the vaccine are expected to come from the same company, again as a compensation for the delayed deliveries.

Next month, 83,000 dozes are expected, and 104,000 in March, said at the airport Bogdan Kirilov, Executive Director of the Bulgarian Drug Agency. About 3,600 doses of Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive. For now, it is unclear on what day this will happen - possibly by the end of the week, Kirilov said.

Whether Bulgaria will get the AstraZeneca vaccines depends on the decision of the European Medicines Agency, which is expected this week. If the EC issues a marketing authorisation, there should also be deliveries of the Oxford vaccine at the end of February, added the Director of the BDA.

Bulgaria also keeps a close eye on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine - this is the fourth vaccine candidate to go through trials. "There is no information on whether there will be one or two doses needed for inoculation, it is an adenovirus vaccine. However, if approved, there could be a fourth vaccine for use that will speed up the process of mass vaccination in the country", explained Bogdan Kirilov.

He expects there will be more vaccines available after mid-March or April because of more approved candidates. "Several scenarios are being worked on, to be able to react if there is a delay with the supply some vaccines, but official confirmation is expected in the coming weeks," Kirilov added.

Our country has no claims to the type of vaccine, Bogdan Kirilov replied when asked if we would get the Russian and Chinese vaccines. 'Regardless of origin and country, the same procedure must be carried out for all vaccines. Russia has started negotiations with the European Medicines Agency, if their vaccine meets all European requirements, Russia will receive marketing authorisations and will put the vaccine into use", explained the expert.

Thus, by his account, mass immunization depends on when companies deliver vaccines and when they are approved. Still, 4.5 million are expected from the first two companies - Pfizer and Moderna. Which means that 2.2 million Bulgarians may be vaccinated with them by the end of the year. If five vaccines get approval, 2.5 million citizens will be able to get vaccinated by June.



Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva is leaving for Brussels to take part in the first for 2021 meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, the press office of the Foreign Ministry reported.

In the context of the EU goals for the leading role in global fight with climate changes, the foreign ministers of the European Union will discuss the groundwork for UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) to be held in November in Glasgow.

The ministers will also welcome the US return to the Paris Climate Accord and will adopt the conclusions on climate and energy diplomacy.  Within the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council it is envisioned to hold a videoconference with Foreign Minister of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi with a focus on the cooperation between EU and Japan in the region of the Indian and Pacific oceans.

On the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council is also the cooperation with the UK after Brexit in the field of foreign policy and security. Among other topical issues to be discussed at the meeting is the arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the EU coronavirus vaccines distribution strategy.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the 20th consecutive year, Novinite.com, the largest English-language news agency in Bulgaria, presents the Personality in the News“ awards.

Bulgarian doctors have been selected as award winners in the annual competition "Personality in the News 2020".

The NoviniteGroup team was clear and unanimous in this choice.

The selection was not easy, but in the end, it was not difficult either, given that medics have been the real heroes of the past crisis year, and dozens of news items have been dedicated to them and their activities every day.

Bulgarian doctors experienced everything in 2020 - they were the first to face a completely unknown infection, they took care of patients without knowing if they themselves would get infected, they worked in inhumane conditions, in the beginning even without adequate protective clothing and masks, did not see their families and relatives for days and weeks...

Many of them got infected with COVID-19, many also lost the battle with the disease.

Bulgarian doctors and healthcare workers deservedly received the admiration and gratitude of all of us! That's why the "Personality in the News 2020" award is for them!

The award will be given to the Bulgarian Medical Union, as a collective body of all doctors and medical personnel in Bulgaria, represented by the Chairman of the Management Board Dr. Ivan Madzharov.

Traditionally, NoviniteGroup also presents a Special Award for Outstanding Global Achievement.

Explicitly, the winners in this category are Stefan and Maxim Ivanovi, who are awarded the Special Prize for Outstanding Global Achievements in 2020.

Maxim Ivanov is an 11th grade student at St. George's School in Sofia.

Stefan Ivanov is a finance professional, Managing Partner of Challenger Capital Management investment boutique, and before that - General Director of the Bulgarian unit of the global Citibank.

With no previous experience in rowing, boat building or sailing, Maxim and his father Stefan built an ocean rowing boat in their garage. They called it NEVEREST, which to them means: Never rest until you reach your Everest.

In the summer of 2020, amid the coronavirus-stricken world, they decided to cross the Atlantic Ocean during the busiest hurricane season since 1951, and managed to achieve their impossible dream!

They set off from Portugal and, after rowing 4,444 nautical miles (8,230 km) in 105 days in the ocean, managed to land in Barbados (Caribbean), setting several records.
 
Thus, Max became the "Youngest Ocean Rower" in the world (at the age of 16 years and 293 days on the start day of crossing). NEVEREST became "the first rowing boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean from east to west during hurricane season". And Maxim and Stefan successfully completed the "First Ocean Rowing Expedition for Bulgaria".

In addition, their voyage is dedicated to the "Yes! For life!” (www.zajivot.bg) campaign of the Ministry of Health, which Maxim and Stefan actively support and which aims to encourage more people to make a decision to become posthumous organ donors and to share this decision with their close relatives.

"Honorary Ambassadors of Novinite 2020" in the "Business", "Culture" and "Sports" categories

The "Honorary Ambassador of Novinite 2020" award in the "Business" category is awarded to Mrs. Violina Marinova for overall contribution to banking.

A professional with 50 years of experience in DSK Bank, a visionary with exceptional merits for building and maintaining trust in financial institutions in our country, Mrs. Marinova is an indisputable example of farsighted leadership approach, dedication and loyalty.

Under her guidance, the largest consolidation on the Bulgarian financial market, namely the merger of DSK Bank and Expressbank, has been successfully impelemented. Thanks to her high professionalism and hard work, DSK Bank has become a leading banking institution in Bulgaria, focused on good customer service and development of innovative products and services.

Violina Marinova is a role model for the financial business in our country.

Besides the numerous professional accomplishments, her career has been accompanied by a number of awards, both in Bulgaria and abroad. Marinova has won a number of prestigious awards and distinctions. The culmination came in September 2013, when Violina Marinova became the only banker in Bulgaria who had received the highest state award - Stara Planina Order First Degree. In the following 2014, she also received the Golden Cross of Merit of Hungary. In 2019, she was awarded the Banker of the Year award for remarkable business growth and sustained customer trust. Currently, Mrs. Marinova is a member of the Supervisory Board of DSK Bank.

In the „Culture“ category, „Honorary Ambassador of Novinite 2020“ is awarded to the creator and director of ArtTheatre Berlin, Katya Kostova.

The Peshtera-born Bulgarian left for Germany almost 20 years ago together with her family. She indulged in her love of theatre almost immediately after settling there, but as a side activity, not as an activity through which she made a living. She started oprganizing productions of Bulgarian performances, concerts and literary readings of Bulgarian authors for the Bulgarian diaspora. She finances her endeavours entirely with her own funds, and earns her living with a lot of work. However, nothing can stop her from following the magic of theatre, which has captivated her since her school years.

In fact, the idea to actively promote the Bulgarian theatre in Germany was born almost 5 years ago during an exhibition at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute. Her heart beats for Bulgarian artists, theatre, movies, music, books. And so her favourite Art Theatre became more and more established, organizes tours in Germany and performs better and better one of the new goals set by Katya Kostova – helping the audience learn to distinguish between valuable art and mediocre one. Her latest endeavour is to start presenting the productions with subtitles, so that the German audience would be able to truly appreciate the Bulgarian theatre.

In the "Sports" category, the title "Honorary Ambassador of Novinite 2020" is awarded to the notorious Kubrat Pulev.

For Kubrat Pulev, the past 2020 was one of the most significant in his glorious career in professional boxing. The second battle for the world title, which he had been waiting for for 6 years, after his unfortunate match at the end of 2014 with the then-champion Vladimir Klitschko, finally took place. This happened following many obstacles, tension and backstage games.

In the end, „The Cobra“ managed to face the current world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. And although he lost,
Kubrat Pulev played a very strong, valuable and certainly worthy of being entered in the textbooks match.

Despite Joshua's victory, „The Cobra“ remains one of our most glorious sports athletes and his name will always shine brightly – after all, standing twice as a contender for a world title is a success that just a few athletes from around the world could boast. Kubrat has always demonstrated that he enters the ring not only for himself, but also for the Bulgarians and Bulgaria. To them, he will always be a champion.



You can see who were the "Personality in the News 2019" here.

 

 

The nationwide testing campaign for teachers will kick off in Bulgaria today. Rapid antigen tests will be applied to find out the so-called latent morbidity rate among teachers, BGNES reports.

With mass testing, already underway in separate regions of the country, health authorities want to get the real picture of the spread of Covid-19 infection after primary school students have started in-person classes since early January.

From February 4, some of the students from 5th through 12th grade will return to classrooms, but not more than 40% of the students in one school.

In Sofia alone, nearly 90,000 teachers will be tested for free with antigen tests. According to the school principals, the teachers of the first to the fourth grades should be tested with priority.

The health minister has already announced that 30% or more of teachers and non-pedagogical staff, as well as inmates of the nursing homes want to get vaccinated.

Mass vaccination of teachers should start within days. /BGNES

 

 

Today before noon it will be cloudy with occasional rainfalls. In the afternoon rains will stop, at the latest in the eastern regions. Clouds will temporarily break. Moderate south-southwestern wind will rise to strong in eastern Bulgaria and to the north of the mountains. The national weather service declared a warning code yellow for the whole country owing to the expected stormy winds.

In the afternoon hours wind will change direction to northwest and cold air will start flowing into the country, temperatures will be falling. It will still be relatively warm – day temperatures will vary from 8C to 13 C.

The atmospheric pressure is considerably lower than the average January values but will be rising during the day.

By midday it will be mostly cloudy and rainy in the mountains, at about 1500 m a.s.l. snow will fall. Around noon from the west clouds will break and rain will stop. Before noon, strong to stormy southwesterly wind will blow, changing direction to west-northwest in the afternoon. The maximum temperature at a height of 1200 m a.s.l. will be about 3 C, at 2000 meters - about -3C.

Over the Black Sea coast will be mostly cloudy. In the afternoon rains will fall there, which by the evening will stop. The wind will be mostly strong from the south, in the afternoon it will briefly change to west-northwest and will subside to moderate. Maximum air temperatures will be 10-13C. The seawater temperature is 8-9C. Sea State 2-3.

 

Covid-19 statistics for Bulgaria shows that there were 121 new cases and 180 recovered as of January 25.

In the last 24 hours,1,207 tests were made. Of these, 602 are PCR and 605 are rapid antigen tests, as 10% tested positive.

Nine people died of complications and another 24 were vaccinated, according to data from the Single Information Portal.

There have been 8,820 victims of the Covid-19 epidemic since March. The recovered so far are 179,068.

There are 26,929 active cases. As of January 25, there were 2,874 hospitalized, with 283 in intensive care wards.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, 214,817 cases of infection have been documented in Bulgaria.

The total number of vaccinated in Bulgaria reaches 26 143.

Caseload update by regions: Blagoevgrad - 2, Burgas - 13, Varna - 6, Veliko Tarnovo - 0, Vidin - 0, Vratsa - 1, Gabrovo - 0, Dobrich - 1, Kardzhali - 1, Kyustendil - 13, Lovech - 4, Montana - 1, Pazardzhik - 4, Pernik - 1, Pleven - 2, Plovdiv - 7, Razgrad - 1, Ruse - 6, Silistra - 1, Sliven - 6, Smolyan - 5, Sofia city - 35, Sofia region - 5, Stara Zagora - 2, Targovishte - 0, Haskovo - 1, Shumen - 2 , Yambol - 1.

 








Ads and other info can go over in this area. You can edit this content area by logging into your manager area and visiting the content section. Edit the item titled "Right Menu Area".