Bulgaria has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism because of the problematic COVID-19 situation in the country. A Commission spokesperson said that authorities had requested a range of medical items via the mechanism, including a significant amount of ventilators, patient monitors, ICU beds, and oxygen masks.
The Civil Protection Mechanism is meant for quick mutual assistance in natural disasters, industrial accidents and other emergencies.
There are currently 747 patients in intensive care units across the country. A further 8526 patients with COVID-19 are hospitalised. Over 91% of those who admitted to the hospitals have not been vaccinated against coronavirus infection.
“A mountain was made out of a molehill”, Health Minister Soycho Katsarov commented, adding that the country activated the mechanism just as insurance.
“Given that the crisis is not over, the situation is severe, there are still risks of deteriorating. Therefore, we think it is good to open this procedure to be ready, if necessary, to use it,” he told bTV. Katsarov added that he had discussed the situation with the European Health Commissioner, who suggested that Bulgaria activate this procedure.
Katsarov did not go into details about the specific number and type of the requested equipment. “Now we have no need, if there is one, the EC is ready to react immediately. Now we have enough beds, including ICU beds,” he said.
There are 12,000 beds for COVID-19 patients in Bulgaria equipped with oxygen and staff, and of these, just over 8,000 beds are occupied. Out of 1,000 ICU beds, about 800 are occupied. “In both cases, we are close to the upper limit, the danger has not passed, so we opened this opportunity,” said Katsarov.
Bulgaria is the third European country to ask for help in recent weeks to deal with a critical pandemic situation following Romania and Latvia – the other two European countries, where the level of COVID-19 vaccinations is much lower than the European average.
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)