Bulgaria: Emergency Epidemic Situation Ends in a Week

Covid measures
25.03.2022 / 18:44

Abolition of the emergency epidemic situation from April 1, is envisaged in a draft amendment to the Health Act, submitted by the ruling coalition.

Simultaneously with the abolition, a legal opportunity is created in the case of a future mass spread of a contagious disease, for the Minister of Health, at the suggestion of the Chief State Health Inspector, to be able to introduce anti-epidemic measures for the whole country or a separate area for a certain period.

It is proposed to provide such an opportunity to the directors of the regional health inspections for the territory of the respective district, of a separate municipality or settlement.

The measures that will be able to be introduced after the lifting of the epidemic are of a general nature, disinfection, disinsection and deratization, regular ventilation, ensuring physical distance, the obligation to wear protective masks by persons in certain public places and etc.

There is also an opportunity to organize immunization campaigns, open temporary immunization centers and form vaccination teams.

The bill excludes the possibility of introducing anti-epidemic measures to prohibit entry into the country and restrict movement in the country, as well as stopping the operation of public facilities and/or other facilities or services provided to citizens.

If necessary, health requirements may be introduced for persons arriving in the country - documents for vaccination, testing or post-illness, in order to prevent the import and further spread of the causative agent of the disease that led to the epidemic.

The transitional and final provisions make changes to the NHIF Budget Act for 2022, which proposes to extend by three months after the abolition of the epidemic the possibility of the Ministry of Health to subsidize medical institutions for hospital care to maintain their readiness to provide of medical care.

According to the petitioners, this will keep part of the capacity of the medical institutions for a certain period, so that they will be ready to treat patients with an infectious disease in case of change of circumstances. It is also proposed to create a legal opportunity, after the abolition of the declared emergency epidemic situation and with the introduction of temporary measures, the director of the relevant regional health inspectorate to be able to conclude contracts with providers of medical care who do not meet the requirements.

Another change provided for in the State Property Act allows medical institutions to provide free medical and laboratory equipment, medical devices and personal protective equipment, medicines, disinfectants, hygiene and other materials and consumables for a period of three months after termination of the emergency situation.

Thus, according to the petitioners, a legal opportunity will be created for “the provision of medical facilities with medical equipment, the delivery of which is expected soon”.

Amendments to the Medical Establishments Act create an opportunity for the Minister of Health to order the RHI to introduce temporary measures and activities for organization and restructuring of medical establishments on the territory of the respective district for a certain period of time when there is an increased number of patients, requiring hospital treatment and isolation. Currently, this possibility is linked only to a state of emergency or an epidemic.

An amendment to the Law on Measures and Actions during the State of Emergency, announced by a decision of the National Assembly of 13 March 2020, envisages extending by three months the possibility of disbursement of funds for the first line, three months after the abolition of the epidemic, including vaccines.

This category includes employees of the relevant secondary budget managers of the Minister of Health - Emergency Medical Centers, regional health inspectorates, state psychiatric hospitals and the National Center for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases.

It is proposed that the law enter into force on April 1, 2022, as this will ensure the continuation of the activities of medical institutions under the current conditions and procedures for diagnosis and treatment of patients with COVID-19.

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Photo: Stanimir Petkov

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