Bulgaria’s caretaker Health Minister sets rules for returning to in-person school classes

School pupils may return to in-person learning from November 8 in municipalities where the Covid-19 morbidity is less than 500 per 100 000 population on a 14-day basis, according to an order by caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov, posted on the ministry’s website on November 3.

As of November 3, only three out of 28 districts in Bulgaria have a morbidity less than 500 per 100 000 population: Kurdzhali, Turgovishte and Smolyan, according to the daily update by the unified information portal, as The Sofia Globe reported earlier.

In municipalities where the Covid-19 morbidity rate is from 250 to 500 per 100 000 population, half of the classes may be in-person, on a rotational basis, according to Katsarov’s order.

Where schools re-open for in-person learning, pupils must be tested twice a week, using non-intrusive testing. Testing must take place on Mondays and Thursdays, the order says.

Teaching and non-teaching staff must be tested if they do not have a certificate of vaccination, or of having undergone Covid-19, or a negative antigen or PCR test.

All pupils from the fifth to 12th grade and teachers must wear masks.

If parents, guardians or trustees disagree with testing of the pupils, the pupil must be given the opportunity to go over to distance learning online.

Physical education and sports classes must be held outdoors.

In-person group extracurricular activities and other group activities at school may not involve mixing of pupils from different classes, Katsarov’s order says.

In other Covid-19 news in Bulgaria:

The Education Ministry said on November 3 that 45 per cent of teachers in Sofia had been immunised against Covid-19, while the national average was 40 per cent.

In Sofia, 34 per cent of non-teaching staff had been vaccinated, while the national figure was 31 per cent.

The national average for vaccination of pupils over the age of 12 was 5.4 per cent, and 3.6 per cent in Sofia.

The ministry said that 2.3 per cent of teachers in Sofia were in quarantine, while the national average was 2.2 per cent. It said that 0.7 per cent of pupils in Sofia were quarantined, while the national average was 1.09 per cent.

Scheduled admissions to hospitals in the Bourgas district have been suspended for a month as of November 3.

Dr Georgi Pazderov, head of the regional health inspectorate in Bourgas, told Nova Televizia: “This is a routine anti-epidemic measure. It is necessary due to the fact that 25 per cent of the beds in Bourgas district are currently engaged in the treatment of Covid patients”.

He said that the measure was also related to personnel being transferred from other departments to the Covid wards.

The Military Medical Academy in Sofia has issued a public appeal for volunteers to assist in the fight against Covid-19.

It called on final-year medical students, nursing students, doctors and nurses to volunteer, and called for volunteers to help in sanitary and hygienic work.

Anyone wishing to volunteer may e-mail [email protected], leaving their names, training course or profession, telephone and e-mail for feedback.

Personal protective equipment will be provided to all volunteers, who must have a Covid green certificate.

Last week, similar appeals for volunteers were issued by the Sofia and Plovdiv regional health inspectorates.

Plovdiv media reported on November 3 that space in Plovdiv cemeteries was running out.

Twenty-three people in Plovdiv died of Covid-19 on November 2, while about seven to 10 people died from the disease in the city daily, the reports said.

The reports said that Plovdiv mayor Zdravko Dimitrov would meet the head of the funeral activities municipal company next week to discuss options, including expanding the cemeteries on Rogosho Chaussee and in the Proslav district. There is no room to expand Plovdiv’s central cemetery.

Plovdiv media reported that it was taking a long time for the municipality to deal with an application to open a private crematorium on Rogosho Chaussee.

“I don’t know if this building permit will be issued soon, because we will look at it from all sides. There are also canons that must be observed. So that we don’t have various disputes later,” Plovdiv news website podtepeto.com quoted Dimitrov as saying.

The Orthodox Church is against cremation of human remains.

“I am a Christian, a believer, and I will never do anything that goes against the canons of the church,” Dimitrov was quoted as saying.

A national poll by the Bulgarian Association of Restaurants and the Association of Restaurants in Bulgaria has found that 42.2 per cent of restaurants have fully vaccinated or close to fully vaccinated staff, the associations said on November 3.

Asked how the green certificate system had affected their turnover, close to 34 per cent said that they could not last more than a month under the current system and with the resulting reduced turnover, the association said.

Of those polled, close to 25 per cent said that they could survive for two months, 22.7 per cent said that they would close in two weeks, while 12.6 per cent said that they had already closed down, some permanently.

The associations said that 43.8 per cent of restaurant owners said that their turnover was down by 80 per cent, a third said that their turnover was down by 50 to 80 per cent and 19.5 per cent said that their turnover had halved.

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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