SOFIA, July 28 (Xinhua) -- The Bulgarian government on Wednesday extended the nationwide epidemic emergency until Aug. 31, the cabinet said in a statement.
It is necessary to maintain the decline in the spread of COVID-19 achieved in the country, as well as to prepare the healthcare system to respond to a possible new pandemic wave, the statement noted.
The epidemic emergency was initially declared on May 14 last year with a duration of one month, replacing the state of emergency implemented on March 13. It has already been extended several times, with the last extension to the end of July.
The strict application of restrictions for entry into the country would help reduce the likelihood of the spread of new coronavirus variants in Bulgaria, it added.
The statement also said that vaccination was the main anti-epidemic measure, so it was important to improve the awareness of people of different ages and social groups about the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19.
However, the statement acknowledged that only 18.1 percent of the subject population has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Bulgaria, and 16.2 percent were fully vaccinated, ranking it last in the European Union.
A total of 424,079 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 18,203 deaths have been registered in Bulgaria so far, of which 200 cases and four fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours, according to the country's health authorities.