The Bulgarian Education Ministry is preparing to launch voluntary antigen testing of school pupils for COVID-19, with Tuesday as the deadline for parents to give their consent.
But some parents who oppose the testing launched an online petition against it on Monday, which already has over 13,500 signatures.
Some critics who posted comments on the petition complained of “experimental methods” and “life-threatening tests”, and said that “children are not testing rabbits”. Many were also critical of vaccines and the current measures in force to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“I do not want my child tested or vaccinated against COVID-19. I do not trust the tests and vaccines, as well as the Bulgarian institutions which are advertising them non-stop,” said one person who posted a comment on the petition, Boyana Fileva.
Bulgaria’s National Network for Children, a children’s rights NGO, told Bulgarian National Radio that there was insufficient information about the process and why mass testing is needed.
“It is not clear, apart from that some antigen test will be done, what will exactly happen – who will do it, whether it will cover all age groups of children or whether it will be only for [school] students, or will it include children from kindergartens?” asked Plamena Nikolova from the National Network for Children.
“If the testing takes place, what will positive results for COVID-19 mean and what will be the consequences – will there be а class quarantine or school closure if infections are observed?” she added.
The official survey of parents, which started on February 5, said the testing will be carried out by medical professionals and is a way to establish exactly how widely infection has spread.
There were low levels of interest when the Education Ministry made testing available to teachers earlier in 2021.
Meanwhile only around 21 per cent of teaching professionals have applied for vaccination so far, according to the health ministry.
Forty-six per cent of Bulgarians will abstain from vaccination, according to research published by polling company Gallup on January 12.