Covid-19 in Bulgaria: Caretaker Health Minister warns against false sense of security

Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov issued a stern warning on July 2 against a false sense of security about the country’s Covid-19 situation.

Speaking against a background of figures showing a gradual decline in active cases and new infections, Katsarov said that the calm during the summer months was deceptive, because the epidemic was not under control and Bulgaria was not insured against a new wave.

“We cannot even predict when this wave will come, now in summer or autumn,” Katsarov said.

He was speaking at the first meeting of the public council on vaccines, convened to promote vaccination against Covid-19. The council involves, among others, medical experts, community and religious leaders and mediators.

Zahari Atanasov, a member of the board of the National Network of Health Mediators, said that there was a lot of opposition to Covid-19 vaccines.

Atanasov said that health mediators often fall victim to aggression when they attempt to persuade Roma people to be immunised against Covid-19.

He said that conspiracy theories are spreading very seriously among the Roma community.

One of the reasons, according to Atanasov, is that medical professionals do not set a personal example.

“Quite a few people have started to be vaccinated, about 10 per cent of the Roma community has been vaccinated, but how many medical people have been vaccinated – about 20 per cent, which is scary, let the medical specialists set a personal example first,” he said.

Professor Ivailo Tarnev, head of the National Network of Health Mediators, said that about 240 mediators work in the field in the 28 districts in Bulgaria and face many challenges in the community related to the contradictory messages from experts and medical staff.

Tarnev said that some churches described the vaccines as “the work of the Devil” while, unfortunately, some general practitioners were opposed to vaccines.

“We need to start speaking with one vocice, the campaign is very insufficient, there is no communication strategy, people with chronic diseases are still not aware of whether they can be vaccinated,” he said.

Katsarov responded: “Let’s not attack GPs, most are not against vaccinations. About 70 per cent of immunisations are given by general practitioners”.

In a separate announcement, Sofia municipality said that from July 5, it would accept applications from companies, enterprises and business centres that have at least 50 employees who want to be vaccinated. The application form will be posted on Sofia municipality’s website on Monday.

A mobile vaccination team would be sent to those who applied, the municipality said.

This weekend, there will be “green corridors” for vaccinations for all comers in three shopping malls and two cultural centres in Sofia.

Because of the high temperatures and for the sake of greater security for the health of the medical teams and the public, the vaccination points this weekend will be indoors.

There will be vaccination points in the Paradise, Serdica Centre and Ring Mall shopping malls, open from 1pm to 6pm.

The vaccination point that was in a park in Druzhba will be moved inside the Iskar House of Culture, while there will be a vaccination point at the Assen Zlatarov community centre in the Hristo Botev area. Both will be open from 9am to 4pm.

Those who have received their first dose in one of the public parks on previous weekends will be able to receive the second at one of the shopping malls or the two cultural centres.

The Sofia regional health inspectorate has issued instructions for vaccination against Covid-19 of children over the age of 12. They may receive the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. The Jannsen and Moderna vaccines are for people over 18.

(Photos: Bulgaria’s Health Ministry)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, please click here.

The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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