Pupils in 15 districts in Bulgaria remain on distance learning as antigen tests delayed

Pupils in 15 out of Bulgaria’s 28 districts will continue to study online until a further 200 000 non-intrusive tests for Covid-19 arrive, the Education Ministry said on November 9.

Bulgaria has introduced a system whereby pupils in the first to fourth grades may return to in-person learning, while being tested twice a week. The test is saliva-based. Parental consent for the testing is required, in the absence of which the pupil remains on distance learning.

The Education Ministry said that there was no information when the delayed tests would be delivered.

Earlier, the Health Ministry signed contracts with two firms for 200 000 tests each, and has called a tender for more than 1.4 million more tests.

One provider fulfilled its commitment, and the 200 000 tests were immediately distributed in 13 districts, including Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia.

The districts that have not received tests are Plovdiv, Rousse, Haskovo, Bourgas, Stara Zagora, Sliven, Yambol, Veliko Turnovo, Pleven, Lovech, Vidin, Vratsa, Montana, Pernik and Sofia district.

Parents and teachers will be notified as soon as the tests arrive and will have at least two days in advance to prepare for the resumption of in-person learning for pupils in the first to fourth grades, the Education Ministry said.

Pupils in the districts where the tests have been received may return to class from November 10.

There has been no announcement of the extent to which parents have consented to the testing of their children. In some parts of Bulgaria, there have been protests against the system, according to media reports, while the teachers’ trade union at the Podkrepa labour confederation has expressed numerous misgivings about the system.

In other news about Covid-19 in Bulgaria:

Nova Televizia reported on November 9 that the hospitals in Bulgaria are still on the brink because of the peak of the current wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At St Anna hospital in Sofia, all three floors dedicated to patients with Covid-19 are almost always full. The situation is similar at other medical institutions, the report said, adding that some hospitals had compiled waiting lists for admissions.

St Anna hospital head Professor Rada Prokopova told Nova Televizia that in terms of an order by the caretaker Health Minister, the hospital should have 30 patients per floor, but currently the number was 34.

“Yesterday there were 37 on my floor. Because even if they stop the ambulances from coming to our medical institution, many people come, brought by their relatives,” Prokopova said.

The vast majority of severe cases at the hospital were people who had not been vaccinated against Covid-19

“So far, one vaccinated patient has died. We managed to save everyone else,” Prokopova said.

Bulgarian Medical Association (BMA) head Dr Ivan Madzharov told a conference in Sofia on November 9 that doctors found guilty in court of issuing false Covid certificates would have their licences to practice revoked.

“The issuance of a false certificate is an act that takes away the right to life. Such a doctor may not continue to practice his profession,” Madzharov said.

He said that society expects from the BMA an answer to the alarming question about the fake certificates. The association’s position was that in the event of a guilty verdict, the doctor’s licence would be revoked.

(Photo: Education Ministry)

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