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Apr 03, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

PM Orbán: We fight two viruses: One is fear, while the other is the virus itself

During his regular morning radio interview, Prime Minister Orbán discussed the possible extension of movement restrictions, preparations for large-scale infection, and a new economic recovery plan. He also thanked all those currently fighting on the frontline, announcing that healthcare workers will receive a bonus of HUF 500,000.

“The best we can do is slow down the spread of the virus by minimizing social contact,” said Prime Minister Orbán, adding that he listens closely to reports from the Operational Group. Unfortunately there is still no vaccine for the virus, he said, so the current situation cannot simply be eliminated. That’s why measures to enforce a slowdown remain in force because we must fight for the lives of each and every individual.

The prime minister thanked everyone fighting to combat the disease. Hungary’s state of emergency was declared 23 days ago, and everyone has been playing their role as part of the defense, from health workers to transport operators. The government is setting up an epidemic fund that will be presented tomorrow by Gergely Gulyás, minister heading the Prime Minister's Office, and will be rewarding each healthcare worker with an additional allowance of HUF 500,000 for their efforts. 

The prime minister also mentioned the greater burden on mothers caring for smaller children at this time of crisis. 

Orbán stressed that the government would decide on the future of currently imposed movement restrictions this coming Wednesday. Expert medical advice will determine whether or not to extend these measures.

“They also knew during communism that they would eventually drive out the Russians,” the prime minister said, drawing a comparison to the current situation. “But in the meantime, what would happen? This is the case now because it might take a year and a half to get the vaccine, but the question is how to arrange our lives in the meantime.”

"We are facing an insidious enemy that is hard to imagine," he said. We are fighting two viruses: One is fear, while the other is the virus itself. There are those who must overcome their fear: priests and state leaders, police, soldiers and doctors. Because if they are in fear, they cannot make the right decisions,” he added. 

Hungary is currently receiving help from the Turkish Council and China, PM Orbán said. An “air bridge” to China had to be built, and a production line for masks has already arrived. He emphasized that a health relocation plan had also been prepared in order to redeploy forces in the event of large-scale infection.

Regarding the current economic crisis, the PM said that although circumstances have changed, goals set earlier must not be abandoned. “We must not turn back to the aid-based economy because it leads to indebtedness,” he stressed, adding that the objective remains to maintain a labor-based economy. On Tuesday, the government will present its biggest economic recovery plan ever, the first two chapters of which will be about preserving jobs and creating new jobs.

The PM spoke about constantly engaging intellectual energies from different parties. “The program is under way; we have been preparing this program for weeks and are progressing very well,” he said, adding that they will be announcing it on Tuesday. 

Touching on politics, Orbán said he is confident that the opposition will realize that now is not the time for political debate, as many, many jobs must be created to replace those that have been lost.

The Hungarian Parliament is working at full steam, as opposed to Brussels, where people only meet “electronically.” The prime minister reminded everyone that despite the onslaught of criticism regarding the Government’s Coronavirus Protection Act, he now has the same powers as the French president had in peacetime, before the epidemic. The prime minister also reiterated that a network led by George Soros has been behind the recent coordinated attack.

“Unfortunately, Brussels deals with us, not the virus,” said PM Orbán. The loss of any Hungarian life hurts, and nothing can be more important to anyone than how to save more lives. In Brussels, they live in a bubble and only talk, instead of dealing with the question of how to save more lives, he said.