Katsarov: If green certificate measures do not work within 10-15 days, Bulgaria faces ‘complete lockdown’

If the measures involving the Covid “green certificate” do not work within 10 to 15 days, “the alternative is a complete lockdown,” Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov said in a television interview on October 23.

“In 10 to 15 days we will have a big problem,” Katsarov told Nova Televizia.

Eighteen out of the 28 districts in Bulgaria are Covid-19 dark red zones, meaning a morbidity rate of 500 or more per 100 000 population on a 14-day basis, according to the October 23 update by the unified information portal. Bulgaria’s Covid-19 death toll is approaching the 23 000-mark. There are 6685 patients with Covid-19 in hospital in Bulgaria.

“Yesterday we had a meeting with the directors of the hospitals in Sofia, they are constantly opening new beds, but the capacity both in terms of people and respirators, is almost exhausted,” Katsarov said.

There were no respirators in the State Reserve either, he said. Katsarov said that the World Bank had promised to provide respirators.

According to Katsarov, European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakidou had suggested that, in the worst case scenario, patients be sent from Bulgaria to other countries.

Katsarov’s order regarding access to indoor public places requiring a green certificate came into effect on October 21. While there has been an increase in the number of vaccines against Covid-19 administered on a daily basis, there have been severe problems because of the health information system going offline, which has hampered the vaccination process.

Bulgaria’s state-owned IT company Informatsionno Obsluzhvane has blamed the problems in issuing green certificates online on the “biggest hacker attack ever carried out” against Bulgaria.

The company said that over the past three days, it had neutralised more than 400 hostile campaigns against the health information site. The most powerful attack was on the morning of October 21, the company said.

It said that the attacks had come from Russia, the United States, Brazil and Ukraine.

With Katsarov’s amended measures having stimulated demand for vaccines, the unified information portal has posted a list of places where vaccination points are open this weekend. The list, in Bulgarian, may be found at this link.

On October 23, Bulgarian National Radio reported that dissatisfaction with the new measures was continuing in a number of sectors.

In an open letter, the Association of Restaurants said that a green certificate should be issued also on the basis of an antibody test. The association called on the state to provide free testing for Covid-19, and for the green certificate rule also to cover the entire state and municipal administrations.

The Podkrepa labour confederation said that if a green certificate requirement was introduced for teachers, more than two-thirds of teachers in Bulgaria would resign.

BNR reported on October 23 that Bulgaria’s tour operators expect a “difficult and challenging” winter season.

There was a risk that the traditional winter tourists from the United Kingdom, Scandinavian countries and Bulgaria’s neighbouring countries would drop their plans to come to Bulgaria, the report said.

The report quoted Dimitrina Goranova, head of the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agencies, as saying that the epidemic situation could discourage tourists from coming to Bulgaria this winter. Rising electricity prices could also discourage Bulgarian tourists, she said.

Germany has classified Bulgaria as a high-risk region as of October 24, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said.

Anyone residing in Bulgaria in the 10 days preceding entry to Germany must comply with a number of rules.

These include mandatory digital pre-registration at https://www.einreiseanmeldung.de/#/. Confirmation must be received. The registration is checked by the carrier and at the discretion of the German border police.

The Foreign Ministry said that everyone entering Germany was required to present a Covid certificate – of a negative test, performed no more than 72 hours before entry in the case of a PCR test or 48 hours in the case of a rapid antigen test, or a certificate of vaccination, or a certificate confirming that the person has undergone Covid-19. A test is not required for those under 12 years of age.

The certificate / test must be uploaded at https://www.einreiseanmeldung.de. Travellers should use the individual link they received in the digital pre-registration confirmation.

Those who have resided in a high-risk area in the 10 days before entering Germany must go immediately into home or other accommodation for 10-day isolation.

The quarantine obligation is waived for those who have a vaccination certificate or a disease certificate and upload it to the digital registration portal. The quarantine obligation is waived from the moment of presentation of the certificate.

Home quarantine (for unvaccinated and untreated) can be terminated after a negative PCR test and testing can be performed at the earliest five days after entering Germany. The result should be stored for 10 days after the test. It should be borne in mind that the requirements may differ from one federal state to another.

Children under the age of 12 are not required to take a test when entering Germany from a high-risk region. They are subject to a mandatory five-day home quarantine, which automatically expires on the fifth day of arrival in Germany.

As of October 22, France has placed Bulgaria “under monitoring,” Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said.

Bulgaria continues to be in the “green zone”, but unvaccinated people and those who do not have a certificate for having undergone Covid-19 must have a negative PCR test or antigen test performed within the last 24 hours before departure, and not as it was up to now, 72 hours before departure.

In the case of vaccination certificates, France accepts those dating from 28 days after the single-dose Janssen and seven days after the second dose of a vaccine requiring two doses. The vaccines that are recognised in France are those approved by the European Medicines Agency.

In the case of a certificate of having undergone the disease, it must date from more than 11 days and less than six months ago.

(Photo of Katsarov: Ministry of Health)

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

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