İrem UZUN -TDO- The Bulgarian government is likely to announce a third national lockdown on Monday as the country is hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic, which has left more than 7,000 patients in the country’s hospitals, and approximately 4,600 people testing positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. 

On March 11, health minister Kostadin Angelov said the country's COVID-19 outbreak was "serious but under control". On March 18, with hospitalizations and deaths rising, Angelov issued an order to lock down, including restaurants, cafes, shopping malls, schools and kindergartens. The tighter restrictions will last for 10 days, with only pharmacies, grocery stores and small businesses remaining open. All cultural and entertainment events are also terminated and private parties like weddings can only be held with no more than 15 people in attendance. 

“We might appear to make inconsistent decisions,” said Angelov as he announced the lockdown. “I want to assure you that all the decisions we have made up until now have been based on science and on everything that is happening around us.” 

The new restrictions will be the last test for the center-right government of Boyko Borissov, who hopes to win a fourth term in the parliamentary elections on April 4.  The Balkan nation of 7 million has recorded 291,769 cases of the coronavirus and 11,715 confirmed deaths. 350,700 Bulgarians have been vaccinated with a first dose so far.

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