Bulgaria’s Health Ministry proposes free Covid-19 rapid antigen tests at GPs

As the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria worsens, the country’s Health Ministry is proposing that the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) pays for rapid antigen tests prescribed by general practitioners and outpatient care doctors.

The Health Ministry said on July 12 that the change is aimed at improving the quality and timeliness of medical care for patients and expanding early detection of coronavirus infection.

“Early detection of existing infection in infected individuals and subsequent measures to quarantine or isolate them would significantly slow the spread of Covid-19,” the Health Ministry said.

There are sufficient funds in the NHIF budget to pay for the changes, the ministry said.

Bulgaria’s Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kunchev said last week that the current wave of Covid-19 in Bulgaria was not fully reflected in official statistics because there was a “significant hidden morbidity”.

This was because PCR tests were expensive, people did not have access to them and did not get tested, Kunchev said.

The head of the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, Professor Iva Hristova, said in a television interview on July 12 that intensive talks were being held at the Health Ministry and within a couple of days, new measures against the spread of Covid-19 would be announced.

“At least the wearing of masks in public places should be mandatory,” Hristova said.

The Health Ministry has urged people with chronic illnesses and those older than 65 to get a second booster dose of vaccine against Covid-19.

Currently, 10 out of the 28 districts in Bulgaria are Covid-19 yellow zones, meaning a morbidity rate between 100 and 249.9 per 100 000 population on a 14-day basis. The remaining 18 districts are green zones, though four are above the 90-mark, putting them close to the threshold to be reclassified as yellow.

The morbidity rate is highest in Sofia city, at 228.23 – meaning that it is approaching the threshold to be reclassified as a red zone.

(Photo: Education Ministry)

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