President Radev: Efforts against COVID-19 Produce Results, Bulgaria Has Fairly Low Spread Curve
The efforts against the novel coronavirus are having an effect and the spread curve in Bulgaria remains fairly low, at least at this stage, President Rumen Radev said here Wednesday. He was speaking at a meeting with government officials held in his office to discuss the measures this country is taking against COVID-19 Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and the head of the national coronavirus task force, Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, were at the meeting.
Participating in the meeting were also Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and the Ministers of Health, Kiril Ananiev, and of the Interior, Mladen Marinov, as well as the director of the national fire service, Nikolai Nikolov.
Radev said he feels encouraged and thanked the Bulgarian people for complying with the recommendations and observing social distancing.
"All kinds of comments can be heard," he said adding that an organization has been set in place with the Council of Ministers heading the operation to brake the spread of the virus.
Bulgaria, like many other countries, was unprepared for an emergency of this magnitude, said Radev. He called on all Bulgarians to show understanding for the efforts of the competent authorities and urged confidence among the institutions and in society in general.
"Information is terribly important if we want to avoid panic," the President also said. He called on representatives of state institutions not to cause fear and panic but "show that they are disciplined, think twice before they say something and act within the bounds of their powers".
"We need to show that by acting together, with joint efforts, honestly, conscientiously, with discipline and clear information for the people, we can overcome this emergency," said the head of State as he turned to Prime Minister Borissov.
Borissov said that a nation can deal with such a crisis only if it is united and strong, and stays calm.
Tomislav Donchev said that the top priority are the measures to protect the health and life of the population. He said that the government is thinking of a scenario with many more infected people and then the focus of actions will be the most vulnerable group: older people. Options for more rigorous quarantine are being considered and this calls for broadening considerably the scope of the in-house social services. This means increasing several times the people and equipment used in home deliveries of food, water and medicines for older people, said the Deputy Prime Minister.
The President raised the issue of supplies of personal protective and medical equipment across the country, the provision of rapid COVID-19 testing kits and clear instructions for the medical staff. He underscored the problem with the speculation with the personal protective equipment and disinfectants, adding that it is immoral to profit out of the health and tragedy of other people.
Health Minister Kiril Ananiev said that within maximum two weeks the country will be supplied with enough protective equipment to meet the needs of the medical staff. To this end all possible sources such as domestic production, and donations from abroad and from Bulgarian nationals are used.
Prime Minister Borissov said that Bulgaria participates in all collective orders for protecting gear started by the European Commission. He also said that there is huge interest in the
Bulgarian industry producing such products because much of the textile sector, especially fabrics makers, has moved to Turkey, China and Vietnam.
He also said that Bulgaria has very good distilleries and several local companies produce 1,000 t of alcohol a month. This country also has in its contingency reserve hundreds of tonnes of alcohol, which has been unblocked. "It is one more way to make sure domestic demand be met and help the neighbouring countries as well," said Borissov.
The Health Minister said that in a single day 18,000 leva were collected in a charity account which will be used to buy medical equipment.
The Bulgarian Red Cross has also been collecting protective and medical equipment. A second larger donation from China is expected to arrive by the week's end.
Radev recalled that an economic and social crisis is unfolding together with the health emergency. "If we don't act now, it can turn into a humanitarian crisis for thousands of Bulgarians," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev said that the current operational programmes and financial instruments are being reconsidered to free up available resources.
It transpired from the Prime Minister's remarks that the European Commission has given the greenlight for restructuring of the EU funding.
Donchev recalled that the measures include access to lending, support for workers and liquid assistance for businesses. The Deputy Prime Minister said that attention should be paid to the most vulnerable sectors such as transport and tourism.
Donchev ruled out the nationalization of strategic companies as an option for Bulgaria, although it is being considered by other EU countries.
Prime Minister Borissov informed the President that he spoke to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban by phone and was assured by him that the Bulgarian trucks waiting to cross Hungary on their way back home will be given a corridor for clear passage.