Inventive Bulgarians Brainstorm Ideas to Ease Corona Crisis

Amid fears about the long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the country's health system and economy, Bulgaria's busiest minds are searching for fresh ideas to tackle the challenges ahead.

Last weekend, the online hackathon Hack the Crisis @ Bulgaria generated 111 ideas for new approaches and quick actions, from highly controversial and seemingly far-fetched ones to others that can immediately be put into action and help.

More than half the proposals were ideas about how to save more lives, in a situation where the lack of protective wear and workforce shortages have been quoted as one of the many problems of Bulgaria's healthcare system.

Some 15 per cent of the ideas were about saving businesses, as some early data show that, since the outbreak of the coronavirus, nearly 10,000 more people in the country have signed the unemployment register.

Among the finalists are Arya Delivery, a platform that would allow small traditional traders to offer products online, SmallMag, a platform giving grocery stores space to offer products online, book4later, connecting up people planning to travel once the quarantine ends, HospitalGen, a platform to enable the tracking of needs and current supplies in hospitals in Bulgaria, and Hero Courrier, an app for a courier service for people in isolation, quarantine and risk groups.

Others engaged in brainstorming have focused on the benefits of mass testing. Economists Assen Vassilev and Kiril Petkov, for example, have introduced a 13-page plan calling for mass screening of the nation, so that healthy people can go back to work as soon as possible.

According to their estimates, most Bulgarians don't have savings for more than six weeks ahead and so can't stay off work indefinitely.

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