Two Bulgarians have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the first cases in the Balkan country, health authorities said early Sunday.
Neither had travelled anywhere recently or been in contact with anyone who had returned from a country with a coronavirus outbreak, chief state health inspector Angel Kunchev said.
“Samples from two patients – a man from the northern town of Pleven and a woman from the central town of Gabrovo – tested positive,” the director of the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Todor Kantardzhiev, told journalists at a late-night press conference.
The man, aged 27, and the woman, aged 75, were tested for the infection as a preventive measure after being hospitalized several days ago with severe respiratory problems.
Their condition has improved and both will undergo further tests overnight to verify the result.
Authorities said they had already tracked down and started testing anyone who had been in contact with the pair – around 40 people in total – in order to identify a possible “patient zero.”
Bulgaria is one of the last countries in Europe to be affected by the virus, which has already infected over 100,000 people worldwide and left 3,500 people dead.
The country is already battling an influenza epidemic with hospitals full of flu patients – potentially jeopardizing preparedness to respond to a spread of the coronavirus, health authorities warned earlier this week.