Deputy Health Minister: Bulgaria is now a Covid-19 orange zone

Bulgaria has crossed the threshold to become a Covid-19 orange zone, with a current morbidity rate of 113 per 100 000 population on a 14-day basis, Deputy Health Minister Alexander Zlatanov told Bulgarian National Television (BNT) on August 16.

Zlatanov was speaking a day before the release of the weekly report by the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD) on the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria, showing the morbidity rates in the country’s 28 districts on a fortnightly basis.

Bulgaria changed, on July 8, the thresholds it uses for classification of districts in terms of Covid-19 infection.

Previously, a district would be declared orange if the infection rate was between 60 and 119.9 per 100 000 population. Now, the range is from 100 to 249.9 per 100 000.

Under the previous criteria, a district would be declared a red zone if the morbidity rate was above 120 per 100 000 population. Now, the threshold is 250 per 100 000.

Zlatanov told BNT that in half of Bulgaria’s districts, the incidence was more than 100 per 100 000 population.

The infection rate is highest in the district of Bourgas, 183 per 100 000 population. In Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, there are 148 per 100 000 infected.

Zlatanov said that the Health Ministry would request an extension of the Covid-19 epidemic declaration beyond August 31.

Bulgaria declared a State of Emergency on March 13 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This continued until May 13 2020, when it was succeeded by an epidemic declaration, which has been extended repeatedly. The most recent extension was to the end of August this year.

A discussion on the possible introduction of stricter measures to prevent the spread of new coronavirus is expected in a few days, Zlatanov said.

He said that although Bulgaria was already an orange zone, not all indicators for the introduction of stricter measures have been met yet.

Each district could decide whether to tighten anti-epidemic measures, Zlatanov said.

Several options for the beginning of the school year are being discussed.

Zlatanov’s forecast is that pupils will go to school on schedule and will alternate in-person and distance learning.

In an interview at the weekend, the former head of the NCIPD, Professor Todor Kantardzhiev, was scathing about the current administration’s performance in the face of Covid-19.

Speaking to Nova Televizia on August 14, Kantardzhiev said that he saw no vaccination campaign, nor measures being taken.

Kantardzhiev, who was fired from his NCIPD post by caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov, was scornful of Katsarov’s plan for responding to Covid-19 in Bulgaria.

“In the new ‘laudable’ plan, in which there are no new things, it should have been taken into account that we already have a very strong weapon, namely vaccines,” Kantardzhiev said.

“I hope God helps Bulgaria, because the first wave was almost non-existent, the second was not very striking, although it significantly burdened the healthcare system, with the third I think that our healthcare system did well. God forbid that the fourth does not develop very quickly and does not (infect) many people,” he said.

“A month and a half ago, I personally thought that the peak would be in October, but I see that things are developing much faster,” Kantardzhiev said.

He said that the rapid development was because no measures were being taken, no explanation being given to the population, and the rate of vaccination against Covid-19 in Bulgaria was drastically below the level of the rest of Europe.

(Image: Pixabay)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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