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Bulgarian PM has "general malaise" after testing positive for coronavirus

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on Sunday he had a “general malaise” after testing positive for coronavirus and would stay at home for now for any treatment, as recommended by his doctors.

FILE PHOTO: Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov arrives for the European Union leaders face-to-face summit in Brussels, Belgium October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool

Borissov, who on Friday met Keith Krach, U.S. undersecretary of state for economic affairs, has informed the U.S. Embassy in Sofia of the situation, the head of Sofia health inspectorate said.

The government press office said Borissov was able to carry out his duties and was in constant contact with his ministers as the Balkan country grapples with a spike in new coronavirus infections and daily anti-government protests since July.

Borissov had self-isolated late on Friday after he was informed that a deputy minister who he had been in contact with five days ago had tested positive.

Health authorities lifted Borissov’s quarantine late on Saturday after two negative results from coronavirus tests, but then he tested positive on Sunday.

“After two PCR tests, as of today I am positive with COVID-19,” the 61-year-old said on Facebook. “I have a general malaise. For the moment, on the doctors’ discretion, I remain on home treatment.”

It was not immediately clear if he was already receiving a specific treatment. He said he had postponed all meetings and planned public appearances for the coming days.

In a response to wishes for a speedy recovery from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Twitter, Borissov wrote back: “Thank you. I hope to recover soon. And in the meantime I will strictly follow the orders of the health authorities.”

Bulgaria, like many other European Union countries, is seeing a steep rise in new infections. There were 1,043 new cases reported on Sunday in the country of 7 million people, bringing the total to 37,562, including 1,084 deaths.

In downtown Sofia, several hundred protesters who rallied for 109th day in a row, also wished three-times premier Borissov well but still demanded his resignation, accusing him of allowing corrupt practices that support oligarchs and businesses close to his centre-right GERB party.

“With or without masks, we have to cure this epidemic of corruption,” Velislav Minekov, one of the informal leaders of the protests, told the peaceful rally.

Borissov has denied any wrongdoing and has said people can have their say at the scheduled election in March.

Health Minister Kostadin Angelov, Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova and Transport Minister Rosen Zhelyazkov said they were self-isolating after being in contact with Borissov on Friday.

President Rumen Radev, who attended a forum in Estonia on Oct. 19 along with Polish President Andrzej Duda, tested negative on Sunday, he said on Facebook. Duda tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Catherine Evans and Alison Williams

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