March 5, 2020 / 4:32 PM / 24 days ago

Bulgaria declares nationwide flu epidemic

FILE PHOTO: A doctor prepares a syringe as part of the start of the seasonal influenza vaccination campaign in Nice, France October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria declared a nationwide influenza epidemic on Thursday to deal with the rapid rise of type B flu cases in the Balkan country, the health minister said.

All schools in the Black Sea state of 7 million were closed to March 11 as the health ministry also recommended discontinuing university lectures and all large-scale public events, including sports and cultural events.

Last week the ministry has detected nearly 4,000 cases of flu but the number of infected patients rose drastically over the past few days, experts said, adding that those under 29 years old are the most vulnerable.

“There has never been such a dramatic increase in the number of people, infected with B flu in Bulgaria,” Todor Kantardzhiev, head of the National Center of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, said.

Health Minister Kiril Ananiev also ordered suspension of routine medical consultations for women and children, routine examinations and immunizations, non-emergency surgical operations and visits to all medical establishments.

There is still no confirmed case of coronavirus, which has already hit almost 90 countries around the world, in Bulgaria.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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