Today we have gathered to present a new model for managing the Covid crisis. We are on the verge of a wave from Omicron, which is coming to Bulgaria with great speed. This was stated by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov via video conference during the presentation of the National Operational Plan for Dealing with COVID-19 at the Council of Ministers.
According to him, the whole model will be a function of the factor - the occupancy of intensive beds. Leading will be the number of intensive care beds in hospitals. With the reduction of the number of free beds - more severe restrictions will be imposed. At this stage, the tightening of measures is decided at the district level.
"We approached it very practically - we analyzed the percentage of intensive care beds by district. We have actually divided Bulgaria into 6 clusters of districts. This method allows us to predict for the next five days what will happen in a given regional cluster and so there is predictability for the society about what should happen in the coming days, "Petkov explained.
The Prime Minister also said that the next element of the plan is the prioritization of children.
"We are well aware that education is complete when it is present. Therefore, going to school, especially for young children, is a priority in all the stages we determine. Stage 1 is when 50 percent of all intensive care beds are occupied. Then there will be small measures. Stage 2 is at 60 percent employment, but businesses and schools are working. Stage 3 is when 70 percent of intensive care beds are occupied. Then the first softer measures begin, but first- to fourth-graders will be present in class. The critical stage is 4, when 80 percent of intensive care beds are occupied. Then we make a symmetrical closure of businesses that serve people, except pharmacies and grocery stores, "said Kiril Petkov.
Depending on how the Covid wave develops, the warning days may be shortened or extended, but there will be a level of forecast so that every family and business has a clear plan of what should happen in the coming days, the prime minister added.
He also presented 10 support measures, the first of which is "60 out of 40" and the second - home care. The third support measure is the Save Me project, and the fourth is the Food Operational Program. They are followed by the Fund of Funds "Recovery Program", through BDB "Recovery" program, through BDB "Tourism Support" program, 9% VAT for companies in tourism and restaurant business, additional incentive schemes in the field of tourism.
"The tenth measure is brand new. It is only for completely closed micro and macro enterprises. It will have a 20 percent grant from the average net income from 2021 of up to BGN 100,000. If your business is closed, it infects stage 4, the state will help for the closed days ", specified Kiril Petkov.
The press conference was also attended by the Ministers of Health and Education Prof. Asena Serbezova and Acad. Nikolay Denkov.
According to Prof. Serbezova, the plan takes into account the characteristics of Omicron, and when new anti-epidemic measures are required, this should be done in a way that different sectors have the opportunity to prepare.
"This plan was necessary because when the Ministry of Health takes measures, their effect on other spheres of public life must be monitored and they must be prepared for these measures. It is expected that there will be a great burden on the health system. The main thing is the data "We have 3 to 5 days to announce certain measures. That is why this mathematical modeling is being done so that measures are not imposed in 24 hours." said the health minister.
According to Prof. Asena Serbezova, as of January 12, 7,835 beds have been opened in Bulgaria for patients with an uncomplicated form of coronavirus infection, of which 4,460 are employed and 3,375 are vacant.
The open intensive beds are 916, of which 584 are occupied and 332 are free. The Minister of Health specified that the maximum number of intensive beds that can be opened under the existing capabilities of the system is 1268, of which 62 are for children.
She added that the main thing is to keep the training present.
"Gone are the days when Minister Denkov understood from the media about the introduction of new measures in schools," said Prof. Serbezova.
For his part, the Minister of Education commented on the measures that will be introduced in schools during the four stages of the plan.
In phase 1 or 50% of intensive beds occupied, the control of wearing masks, providing physical distance, disinfection, the requirement for a green certificate for teachers and testing students without a green certificate once a week will be strengthened. Interest activities and group activities are preserved, but without mixing students from different classes. Organized activities with students such as visits to museums, exhibitions, natural sites and more are stopped as well as events for cultural, educational and educational purposes, planned excursions, green schools, tourist trips, etc.
At stage 2 or 60% of employment, interest-based activities will be stopped, except for those within the all-day training organization. The condition remains not to mix students from different classes. Group activities for general and additional support for personal development will be conducted in person after a study for COVID-19 once a week. Holders of a green certificate will not be tested, as will those already tested for regular school attendance.
At stage 3 or 70% - grades 5 to 12 go into a rotating mode of study for a period of one week. Young students up to 4th grade stay in class. If possible, without rotation and with testing or a green certificate, he will also study in special schools for children with sensory disabilities and in the CSC.
At stage 4 or 80% and over occupancy of beds, children from 5th to 12th grade go online, and for grades 1-4 will be decided according to the specific situation. If necessary, they will also study from home, but for no more than a week.
In addition to the number of intensive care beds in hospitals, the risk assessment in the education system will also take into account the percentage of students absent due to illness, the share of absent teachers and non-pedagogical specialists, weekly morbidity in children and between 30 and 40 year-old adults.
"There is another feature - if in small settlements the incidence is twice lower than the average and there are enough beds, then children from 1st to 4th grade can stay in the system, even when we are in the fourth stage of the plan," he said. Acad. Denkov.
The on-going learning process in schools and special educational support centers (CSEs) will be stopped only as a last resort. Kindergartens will not be closed at all.
The Minister of Health added that the media strategy regarding Covid-19 is also changing.
"We believe that an information campaign based on vaccination slogans is counterproductive and would repel the majority of people, namely the hesitant. One of the concepts in our media policy is, of course, that the decision to vaccinate is individually, but it has an impact on public health, "Serbezova said.
"We will continue to hold meetings with various stakeholders in the health sector. Our goal is to improve the dialogue and present the benefits of vaccination as statistics. We are developing a large-scale information campaign on vaccination," she added.