March 13, 2020 / 12:48 PM / in 4 months

Bulgaria declares state of emergency over coronavirus

A medical worker wearing a mask passes by an ambulance at Sofia emergency center, in Sofia, Bulgaria March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Dimitar Kyosemarliev

SOFIA (Reuters) - The Bulgarian parliament voted unanimously on Friday to declare a state of emergency until April 13 to contain the spread of coronavirus after the number of confirmed cases in the country more than tripled to 23.

The Balkan country confirmed its first death of a patient due to the virus on Wednesday, and on Thursday the number of confirmed cases jumped to 23 from 7.

The state of emergency will allow for travel bans to and from countries with large coronavirus outbreaks, the closing of schools and universities, and permit police to intervene when imposed isolation of infected people is not observed.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov appealed to Bulgarians to follow the rules, saying that on Thursday alone 14 people that were supposed to be under quarantine did not observe it.

“We want this state of emergency for one month,” Borissov told parliament. “We need it for those who violate quarantine.”

The government also plans a revision of the 2020 state budget to allocate more funds to support the healthcare system, Borissov said.

Bulgaria has already limited indoor mass gatherings to 250 people to curb the spread of the infection. The government has urged businesses to apply flexible working time and allow employees to work remotely where possible.

The Bulgarian Football Union suspended all soccer matches on Friday for one month due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Catherine Evans

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