Bulgaria’s top politicians self-isolate after parliament speaker gets Covid

Bulgaria’s prime minister, president and several ministers are all self-isolating after attending a meeting with the parliamentary speaker who tested positive for coronavirus.

The participants of a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday have been required to isolate after speaker Nikola Minchev later tested positive for Covid.

“All participants are considered contacts and have to undergo a mandatory quarantine, the length of which will depend on their vaccination status,” said the country’s chief health inspector Angel Kunchev. Everyone who attended the meeting was in good health, he added.

In attendance at the six-hour meeting were the prime minister Kiril Petkov, president Rumen Radev, and several other ministers for interior, defence and finance, as well as the deputy foreign minister and senior members of the main political parties.

A government official told Reuters: “The prime minister will be under quarantine as are the rules”.

Mr Petkov will continue working remotely and any duties that he is unable to perform in person will be carried out by deputy prime minister Kalina Konstantinova.

The Balkan nation reported 6,761 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday and more than 800 were in hospital with the disease. Since the pandemic began Bulgaria has reported a total of 787,178 cases, and 31,672 deaths. It is the least vaccinated country in the European Union, with only a third of its population vaccinated against the virus.

The country first detected cases of the Omicron variant on 2 January and has started offering one-off cash payments to pensioners who opt to get jabbed.

The plan has seen the government hand out a payment of 75 levs (£32) for getting a Covid vaccine.

The strategy is part of a drive by newly-elected Mr Petrov to boost jab rates in the country of 7 million people.