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Mar 20, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán on coronavirus: We can flatten the curve and slow it down

According to the most recent data, Prime Minister Orbán said in his regular Friday morning radio interview, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection stands at 85, six of whom are in critical condition, and seven have fully recovered.

The PM said that we cannot avoid a large-scale spread of the disease, but it is possible and crucial to slow it down so that serious cases can receive proper treatment.

Speaking on Kossuth Radio’s Good Morning, Hungary, PM Orbán said that domestic scientists remain cautious in their outlook, as there have been only 3,000 clinical measurements from which to gather proper data. He stressed, however, that on the advice of epidemiologists, they introduced measures early to slow the epidemic down as much as possible.

There are enough masks and protective equipment in Hungary

Resources are available, PM Orbán said, highlighting the HUF 10 billion at hand to combat the disease. They are constantly producing and purchasing masks and are keeping up with demand, which is not easy due to the border closures throughout Europe.

The country’s system of defense against the coronavirus is well organized, he said. The government has planned the schedules and stations of doctors; it knows how many are working in healthcare at any given time and who will replace those who may need to leave. Furthermore, the government has named hospitals that will serve as epidemiological hospitals in order to properly care for patients suffering from coronavirus.

On a separate but related note, PM Orbán said that Foreign Minister Szijjártó and his team are also helping those Hungarians who are out of the country and looking to return home. 

Reduce mass unemployment 

The second step in the fight against the virus was to introduce economic measures in order to avoid mass unemployment and help people get back to work as soon as possible. If there is no work, it will end in bankruptcy, Orbán said, adding that unfortunately work is not possible for all. “Anyone who has lost his job will be helped,” said PM Orbán. The government is also actively trying to help businesses so that they do not have to let employees go. 

Additionally, due to the government’s announced moratorium on interest and capital payments on both individual and business loans, a total of HUF 3.6 trillion will now remain in people’s hands to use as needed. 

As another measure, the government has identified particular sectors that have already and will continue to be negatively affected by the coronavirus epidemic, the prime minister said. Companies in these distressed sectors have been granted relief from the normal monthly tax contributions, and new sectors may be added to this list, he said.

Identify drugs that at least relieve symptoms

In the event of a large-scale epidemic, the most important thing is for the task force to tell citizens what to expect next. Presently, a team of virologists is working on altering existing drugs in order to find a vaccine. “We have fantastic researchers in this area as well,” Prime Minister Orbán said. It is by no means impossible that they will come up with something, at least drugs that relieve symptoms, he added.

The government knows that as the number of people infected with coronavirus increases, the number of people in need of intensive care will also increase. The government is preparing for this eventuality. Most patients will be elderly, according to current data, but this does not mean that everyone else is protected, For example, children with immunodeficiency disorders may also be affected by the virus.

PM Orbán further stressed that the government is worried about the elderly, as with the onset of large-scale disease, they are most at risk. Legally, quarantine might be possible, but he wants to avoid this and therefore asks older people to please stay home. The prime minister added that municipalities have been instructed to resolve care for the elderly as well.