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Bulgaria: slow reopening after lockdown. Patashev (Caritas) to SIR, “a few cases, but high unemployment and severe social impact”

Sofia: una volontaria della Caritas consegna un pacco con dei viveri

(Sofia) Life slowly returns to normal even in Bulgaria, where the state of emergency ended on 13 May, although the small number of infections has never required the adoption of drastic measures. Since the beginning of the pandemic, confirmed coronavirus cases in Sofia have reached 2,138 with 102 deaths. “Thank God, the Government in Bulgaria has promptly adopted strict measures that have been fully complied with by the vast majority of people”, the Secretary General of Caritas Bulgaria, Emanuil Patashev, told SIR news agency, “which may explain why there have not been many infections and deaths so far”. And he added: “We now speak of cluster rather than mass infections, although 211 doctors have also contracted the disease”. “Many of the outbreaks – he continued – are in Roma neighbourhoods, care homes, and hospitals, that is, among the most vulnerable. Yet unemployment has “skyrocketed”. “Although official statistics show that 150,000 people are unemployed, this number is actually much higher, with thousands of people on leave, on vacation, or at home to care for their children”, Patashev said, adding that “requests for help from Caritas have increased significantly”. “We see families surviving just thanks to our food bags, people who lost their jobs and homes due to the pandemic, elderly people who need someone to do their grocery shopping, migrants in distress… Dreadful situations”.

“Against this backdrop, Caritas Bulgaria had to reinvent its activities. Our social restaurant in Sofia has become a soup kitchen providing hot meals to the needy, and our ambulances are now carrying food instead of children with disabilities”, the secretary general said. In his opinion, “the social impact of COVID-19 in Bulgaria will be far greater than the health impact since the Balkan country is the poorest in Europe”. “But the crisis has also prompted extraordinary acts of solidarity, and I am sure that together we will overcome this”, he concluded.

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