(DF) Sofia, Silistra, Shoumen Regions Top List for Intensive Care Beds Occupied by COVID-19 Patients

February 4 (BTA) – Sofia, Silistra and Shoumen regions report the largest number of intensive-care unit beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, Bulgarian Health Minister Kostadin Angelov told a news briefing here on Thursday. He specified that, countrywide, coronavirus cases fill 38 per cent of the intensive-care unit beds set aside for the pandemic and 32 per cent of the general-care unit beds earmarked for that purpose. Prof. Angelov is pleased with the results achieved so far in managing the spread of the disease but warned that Bulgaria should be ready for a third wave of the infection if it reaches the country with an intensity comparable to elsewhere in Europe. “Numbers in the capital city have edged up, which is why we are monitoring the situation round the clock, we are analyzing the trends and are ready to take action as soon as necessary,” the Health Minister added. At 90 per 100,000 population, the COVID-19 infection rate now ranks Bulgaria 26th in Europe and 6th in the Balkans. In terms of mortality, this country stands 13th in the EU, said the Chief State Health Inspector, Assoc. Prof. Angel Kounchev. He expects a gradual rise of the infection rate throughout February. Dr Kounchev said that eight administrative regions are now red-coded, including Sofia City, which has moved back into red. Kyustendil has the highest infection rate, 245 per 100,000, and Turgovishte the lowest, 31.6 per 100,000. The rate ranges from 60 to 120 per 100,000 across twelve regions. The head of the National Coronavirus Task Force, Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, warned that the COVID-19 mortality rate has not levelled off and called on hospital directors “to close their ranks and prepare for what lies ahead”. He expects cases to peak again in three weeks’ time. A total of 94,920 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines have been delivered to Bulgaria so far, and 50,124 of them have been administered, Dr Kounchev said. A total of 16,433 persons have received the second dose of the vaccine. Of the 33,000 doses that have yet to be used, 21,150 arrived on Monday and started to be distributed immediately, the Chief State Health Inspector pointed out. “Bulgaria is negotiating additional quantities of messenger RNA vaccines, and we are pleased with the result so far,” Health Minister Angelov said. “The negotiations are underway because manufacturers of adenovirus vaccines have warned that they intend to reduce the quantities, even though these data are inconclusive,” he explained without naming the companies concerned. Bulgarian Drug Agency Executive Director Bogdan Kirilov said that the European Medicines Agency is reviewing the documentation of the Russian vaccine. The European Commission is expected to conclude a seventh contract, for an antigen vaccine, he added. In his words, there is thus a realistic chance of yet another vaccine being approved before the middle of 2021. RI/LG /МЙ/