Bulgaria: New National Plan for Dealing with COVID-19
The National Operational Plan for Dealing with COVID-19 was presented today to the Council of Ministers.
"We will present a new model for dealing with the covid crisis, Omicron is coming to Bulgaria with great speed. Until now, the models and measures were slightly unclear and incompletely implemented, we decided to change this approach, we explored all factors on which the health system depends”, said Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, who participated online as he is under quarantine.
According to him, the most critical factor for the health system are intensive beds, they will be analyzed by district.
"The measures will be determined by the number of occupied intensive care beds. Nothing will be closed as a measure," Kiril Petkov added.
The country will be divided into 6 clusters as districts. The map will be presented every day, it will show what the situation is and what is ahead as a forecast in the next 5 days, in order for each family or business, through this forecast, to be supported.
"This forecast and this map will justify the risk of the next wave. We have prioritized children. Education is valuable when students are present, at school - children from first to fourth grade are prioritized. At stage one, 50% of all intensive care beds in a cluster are busy and full, the measures here are very small. The second stage is with 60% of the beds. Then there are measures, but all businesses work, as well as all schools. Third stage reaches dangerous occupancy of intensive care beds at 70%, there is a risk and the first lighter measures will be implemented, where only students from 1st to 4th grade will go to school", added Kiril Petkov.
According to him, the fourth stage is the most critical, 80% of the intensive care beds are occupied, then a symmetrical closure of businesses will be initiated, grocery stores and pharmacies will be opened.
"Only in the North Central Cluster we are in danger of entering stage 4, the others are in stage 1," added Kiril Petkov.
He presented 10 measures to support businesses
1. "60 to 40"
2. Project “Patronage Care +”
3. Project “Save Me +”
4. Operational program for food or basic material support
5. Fund of Funds Program“Recovery”
6. Through the BDB Program“Recovery”
7. Through BDB Program "Tourism Support"
8. 9% VAT
9. Additional incentive schemes in the field of tourism:
- Compensation for losses
- Reimbursement of tour operators
10. Measure "Stage 4"
Measure 10 is brand new, "Stage 4", it is for complete closure of micro, small and medium enterprises, where there will be a 20% unconditional financial aid, the Prime Minister announced.
"We have been in an emergency situation for two years and we are constantly facing the challenges posed by the covid pandemic," said Health Minister Prof. Asena Serbezova.
According to her, when the Ministry of Health takes anti-epidemic measures, their effect on other aspects of public life should be monitored and they should be taken in a way that prevents the spread of covid, but also to enable the sectors to prepare.
This operational plan takes into account the characteristics of the new variant Omicron, it is expected that there will be a heavy burden on the health system.
"The main thing is that the data we have at the national level should be distributed on a regional basis, to those clusters mentioned by the Prime Minister. We should have at least three to five days to announce measures. This will not always be possible, but we hope that this would be the most frequent case of announcing the measures and that is why this model is made via mathematical modeling", said the Minister of Health.
In the last two years, we have seen not only the shortcomings of online learning, but we will also see the long-term consequences on the educational process, said the Minister of Health.
"Gone are the days when Education Minister Denkov found out from the media about the closure of schools, we have a very good dialogue," Serbezova added.
The new approach to the education system is mainly in its prioritization over other areas, taking into account the severe consequences that we can already see in relation to what happened in the past calendar year, said Education Minister Nikolay Denkov.
According to him, the education system faces two major problems:
- Sharpening opposition among parents over whether learning is on-site or online
- The loss of motivation of some students to return to class
“These are the arguments I presented throughout the Council of Ministers. I’m asking this time to take a different approach and the closure of the school network to happen in connection with the main concern – which is the health of students and teachers”, Denkov explained.
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