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Bulgaria Announces Coronavirus Lockdown Ahead Of Elections

A woman walks past a mural depicting a medical worker in a pose like that of Michelangelo's famous Pieta sculpture, on a wall near a vaccination center in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.

SOFIA -- Bulgaria has announced it will close kindergartens, schools, restaurants, and shopping malls for 10 days as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 infections that have stretched its hospitals.

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Health Minister Kostadin Angelov told reporters on March 18 that theaters, cinemas, and gyms will also be closed from March 22, while indoor gatherings of more than 15 people will be banned.

The center-right government of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov was taking all necessary health safety measures for national elections to be held on April 4, he said.

Earlier in the day, Bulgaria reported 4,201 new coronavirus cases, with 7,804 people in hospitals, including 609 in intensive care.

Overall, health authorities have reported more than 290,000 infections and over 11,000 related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Bulgaria, with a population of 7 million, holds the poorest inoculation record in the European Union, with only about 350,000 people vaccinated so far with a first dose.

With reporting by Reuters
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