UPDATE 1-No lockdown needed in Bulgaria to contain new wave of pandemic - IMF

* Following protective measures 'essential' -IMF

* Bulgaria reports 603 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday (Adds detail, more comments)

SOFIA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Bulgaria will not need to impose a full lockdown to contain the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic if it follows protective measures like mask-wearing and social distancing, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.

"Bulgaria risks, like every other country, a shock from a second wave," Bulgarian-born Georgieva told a briefing for Bulgarian media on Sunday by videoconference.

"It does not mean a full lockdown when you follow protective measures, like wearing masks, social distancing and testing. This is what we should do now in the face of a second wave."

Bulgaria has seen a surge in new coronavirus infections in the past week. It reported 603 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number to 29,108 with 968 deaths.

Georgieva said Bulgaria has managed the crisis relatively well due to its consistently prudent fiscal policy over the past years and swift reaction to contain the infection in the spring.

She said the country can afford to continue with its support schemes for the economy and mitigate the impact from a second wave of COVID-19.

The IMF expects the Bulgarian economy to shrink by 4% this year and grow by 4.1% in 2021 based on its October economic outlook. The IMF had previously forecast a 6% rebound for next year. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Writing by Gergely Szakacs Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

10/18/2020 13:59

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