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Oct 22, 2020

CORONAVIRUS: Here's the latest

A regularly updated feed of the latest information about coronavirus in Hungary.

  

October 22 - 11:19 AM: Finance Minister says recent budget achievements have helped blunt negative effect of pandemic

Finance Minister Mihály Varga said the budgetary and financial macroeconomic achievements of recent years have created a firm basis to blunt the negative economic and social effects of the novel coronavirus epidemic.

Minister Varga told parliament during the debate on the final accounts for 2019 budget that the left wing had described last year's budget as unpredictable and unsustainable, but, he insisted, they have been proven wrong.

Instead of introducing austerity measures, the government has been managing the crisis with the help of a comprehensive program aimed at preserving jobs and supporting families, with a focus on guaranteeing the security of Hungarians, he said. One important condition for this in recent years, including last year, was pursuing disciplined and predictable economic policy that boosted the economy.

László Domokos, head of the State Audit Office, said that an audit of the implementation of the 2019 budget showed that the institutional system ensured that public monies were spent in line with regulations. The bill on the closing of accounts is well-founded and all revenue and expense figures included were reliable, he added.

October 22 - 10:29 AM: 2,032 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 52,212. In compulsory home quarantine: 24,764. Recovered: 15,254. Deceased: 1,305.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 35,653. The results show that 30 percent of those infected, 38 percent of the deceased, and 30 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 2,132 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 197 of whom are on ventilators.

October 21 - 14:05 PM: Parliament approves legislation to extend moratorium on loan repayments

Parliament has unanimously approved legislation to extend a moratorium on loan repayments, but only for vulnerable borrowers.

According to MTI, the legislation extends the loan repayment moratorium by six months to next June. It covers families with children, pensioners, the jobless, fostered workers and companies struggling financially because of the pandemic.

The moratorium was one of the first measures the government introduced in the spring to shield against the economic fallout from the pandemic. Banks are now prohibited from cancelling any retail or corporate pre-crisis loan contracts until the end of next June, effectively putting the onus on lenders to restructure the credit of distressed borrowers who are not covered by the extended moratorium.

State secretary for financial affairs, Gábor Gion said the extension could leave up to HUF 450 billion (EUR 1.2bn) with households and businesses.

October 21 - 13:50 PM: COVID-19: Middle-aged and elderly patient numbers increase

Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller has announced that an increasing number of people aged between 40 and 49 as well as people above 65 are among those infected with the novel coronavirus.

According to MTI, the CMO said that data from the past two weeks showed a shift, with 40-49 year-olds representing nearly 20 percent of all infected people, slightly more than 20-29 year-olds. The proportion of people aged above 65 has also increased, she said. The average age of the infected is currently 44.4 years, she added.

The proportion of children is still low at 4.6 percent. Müller said schools will be disinfected during the upcoming autumn break and the army will help in cleaning operations in institutions where the number of infections has been especially high.

Last week’s number of registered coronavirus cases per 100,000 people rose to 488 from 397 the week before. The operative board has ordered 17 schools and 153 classes to revert to digital education and 46 kindergartens and 21 schools have gone on emergency breaks, the CMO said. So far 909 healthcare workers have been transferred to hospitals treating Covid-19 patients from other institutions.

October 21 - 10:53 AM: 1,423 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 50,180. In compulsory home quarantine: 25,203. Recovered: 14,905. Deceased: 1,259.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 34,016. The results show that 30 percent of those infected, 39 percent of the deceased, and 30 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 2,023 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 201 of whom are on ventilators.

October 20 - 11:43 AM: 989 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 48,757. In compulsory home quarantine: 24,780. Recovered: 14,637. Deceased: 1,211.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 32,909. The results show that 30 percent of those infected, 40 percent of the deceased, and 30 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,960 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 197 of whom are on ventilators.

October 20 - 11:29 AM: CMO: Hungary’s coronavirus infection rates are close to the EU average

Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller has said that according to the World Health Organization, Hungary’s coronavirus infection rates are close to the European Union average.

The CMO said that among European Union member states, Hungary is tenth regarding the number of infections in one million people, and 14th regarding the number of deaths. She added that the number of infections is growing worldwide, including Hungary.

October 19 - 12:19 PM: 1,478 news cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 47,768. In compulsory home quarantine: 24,929. Recovered: 14,312. Deceased: 1,173.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 32,283. The results show that 31 percent of those infected, 40 percent of the deceased, and 30 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,896 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 188 of whom are on ventilators.

October 18 - 10:33 AM: 1,474 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 46,290. In compulsory home quarantine: 25,734. Recovered: 14,088. Deceased: 1,142.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 31,060. The results show that 31 percent of those infected, 41 percent of the deceased, and 30 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,712 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 179 of whom are on ventilators.

October 17 - 12:26 PM: 1,791 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 44,816. In compulsory home quarantine: 25,647. Recovered: 13,580. Deceased: 1,109.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 30,127. The results show that 32 percent of those infected, 42 percent of the deceased, and 30 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,693 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 185 of whom are on ventilators.

October 16 - 12:10 PM: PM Orbán: EU summit will focus on Europe’s response measures to the pandemic

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the coronavirus pandemic and Europe’s response measures are expected to be the focus of the upcoming European Union summit.

According to MTI, PM Orbán said EU leaders will discuss how they can best assist each other in their protective measures and mount a coordinated response to the pandemic.

In a video message uploaded to Facebook, the prime minister said that hopefully EU leaders would also “receive some good news” about when a Covid-19 vaccine would be ready, as well as how and when member states would have access to it.

October 16 - 11:40 AM: 1,293 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 43,025. In compulsory home quarantine: 22,656. Recovered: 13,134. Deceased: 1,085.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 28,806. The results show that 32 percent of those infected, 42 percent of the deceased, and 30 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,642 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 171 of whom are on ventilators.

October 15 - 12:07 PM: Only two state events will be held this year to commemorate Hungary’s 1956 uprising

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, only two state events will be held this year to commemorate Hungary’s 1956 uprising against Soviet rule.

Zoltán Kovács, State Secretary for International Communications and Relations, confirmed that the national flag will be hoisted with military honors in a ceremony beginning at 9am in front of Parliament.

The other event will be the presentation of Hungarian state awards. Otherwise, on Oct. 22 a laser show will be projected on to the Foreign Ministry building, he said. Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 4, photos marking the most important sites of the freedom fight will be shown around Budapest.

October 15 - 11:55 AM: Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market canceled

Organizers of the Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market have confirmed that they will cancel this year's event. Based on preliminary estimates by health officials and government statements, the virus is expected to peak during the Christmas Market season.

Budapest Festival and Tourism Center (BFTK) will launch a campaign to support the 100+ Hungarian craftsmen who were set to sell their products. The framework of the campaign asks people to buy and donate handcrafted products for this year’s holidays.

BFTK awaits further support and companies to join the initiative, as this season is the main source of revenue for this service sector. Currently, most vendors have web shops where their products can be found.

The Christmas Market tradition at Vörösmarty Square dates back to 1998. Tourists and locals come for the array of Hungarian cuisine, arts and crafts, and musical performances. Attracting annually more than 800,000 visitors. The market has been voted one of Europe’s prettiest numerous times in the past.

Various other Christmas Markets are normally held during this season. The Basilica Christmas Market was voted most beautiful in Europe last year.

October 15 - 11:40 AM: 950 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 41,732. In compulsory home quarantine: 24,710. Recovered: 12,628. Deceased: 1,052.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 28,052. The results show that 33 percent of those infected, 43 percent of the deceased, and 31 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,555 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 167 of whom are on ventilators.

October 14 - 12:30 PM: New rapid PCR test developed in Hungary yields results in just two hours

A new rapid PCR test developed in Hungary can yield results in just two hours, significantly reducing waiting times when diagnosing people with coronavirus infection.

Speaking on Kossuth Rádió, Attila Szabó, a deputy rector of the Semmelweis University, said the test speeds up the procedure by showing the presence of the virus without having to extract its RNA from the sample first, a step earlier tests could not circumvent.

The rapid tests are reliable and “it is up to the manufacturer” now to scale up production, Szabó said.

October 14 - 12:13 PM: WHO satisfied with Hungary's handling of coronavirus

The foreign minister said it is clear that the World Health Organisation (WHO) appreciates the measures the Hungarian government has taken so far to combat the coronavirus pandemic and is satisfied with the way the country handled the first wave.

Following talks with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in Geneva, Péter Szijjártó said it is clear that the second wave of the pandemic will be different, posing far greater challenges than the first.

Minister Szijjártó said what made the first wave difficult was that the world had been completely unprepared for a global pandemic, adding, however, that the world’s healthcare systems have now had time to prepare for the next wave.

The minister said WHO has expressed satisfaction with Hungary’s purchase of the necessary protective equipment. He said WHO was also clearly aware of the disagreement being voiced by Hungary’s opposition parties regarding the procurement of protective gear. The organization believes it is better for a country to over-stock on protective equipment than for people to die due to their shortage, he said.

“The Hungarian healthcare system is prepared [to deal with the pandemic] and the WHO recognizes this,” the minister said. 

Regarding his talks with WHO leaders, the minister said both sides agreed that Hungary should only impose another lockdown “as a last resort”. WHO’s guidelines and the opinions expressed by the Hungarian people in the latest National Consultation survey both make it clear that the country must function, he added. 

October 14 - 11:01 AM: 920 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 40,782. In compulsory home quarantine: 23,815. Recovered: 12,164. Deceased: 1,023.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 27,595. The results show that 33 percent of those infected, 44 percent of the deceased, and 31 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,538 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 156 of whom are on ventilators.

October 13 - 10:21 AM: 1,025 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 39,862. In compulsory home quarantine: 21,990. Recovered: 11,753. Deceased: 996.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 27,113. The results show that 33 percent of those infected, 45 percent of the deceased, and 32 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,519 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 160 of whom are on ventilators.

October 12 - 1:00 PM: PM Orbán: Coronavirus numbers set to rise in coming weeks

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said the Hungarian government’s aim is to encourage GP practices to create a community, to eliminate empty practices and improve the level of services.

After meeting the action groups coordinating coronavirus-related measures on Saturday, PM Orbán said on Facebook that the past two weeks had seen a rise in coronavirus numbers and this is expected to continue in the coming weeks in line with international trends. He said projections showed that sufficient numbers of hospital beds were available, with the transfer of medical staff to continue. A total of 106 doctors and 170 nurses have been transferred so far and the numbers can be increased if necessary, he added.

PM Orbán said that talks with the medical chamber would be continued next week concerning regulations for GPs. The government will provide the financial support for GPs to create a community of practices and improve the quality of local services, Orbán said. Once that is completed, talks between the chamber and the operative body coordinating coronavirus-related measures will focus on “defining the relationship between private and public health services”.

PM Orbán also said that the autumn break in schools will be held as usual, between October 23 and 31, and the situation at Hungary’s borders was in order.

October 12 - 11:30 AM: 1,173 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 38,837. In compulsory home quarantine: 21,491. Recovered: 11,037. Deceased: 968.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 26,832. The results show that 33 percent of those infected, 46 percent of the deceased, and 32 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,418 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 154 of whom are on ventilators.

October 11 - 13:05 PM: 1,068 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 37,664. In compulsory home quarantine: 22,215. Recovered: 10,848. Deceased: 954.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 25,862. The results show that 33 percent of those infected, 46 percent of the deceased, and 32 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,252 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 138 of whom are on ventilators.

October 10 - 15:54 PM: 1,374 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 36,596. In compulsory home quarantine: 22,780. Recovered: 9,683. Deceased: 933.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 25,980. The results show that 33 percent of those infected, 47 percent of the deceased, and 34 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 1,174 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 110 of whom are on ventilators.

October 9 - 13:10 PM: Women for Hungary awards honors those fighting Coronavirus

Katalin Novák founded the Women for Hungary Club in 2018 and is its president today. According to Novák, the club establishes awards that will recognize women who set an example each year.

This year the focus was on those who were brave during the Coronavirus epidemic. The Minister for Family Affairs handed out awards to women who have demonstrated excellent behavior.

Awards were given in four categories: healthcare, education, social, and any other field. The awards came with a grand prize of HUF 5 million per category.

There were initially 500 candidates which a professional jury dwindled down to 20 names. Those names were then put to a public vote which included more than 12,000 people deciding on the four grand prize winners.

Novák noted that “It is often said that when someone loses their sight or hearing, their other senses become sharper. With the mask, we cover our mouths and noses, but we don’t cover our eyes, ears, and hearts, so we experience that the saying is true and the other senses are really strengthened. The epidemic may therefore strengthen our most important senses, our hearts.”

The winners included Barbara Fábián, Katalin Balatoni, Marika Klenik, and female members of the Virology Research group of the Szentágothai János Research Center at the University of Pécs.

Barbara Fábián won the healthcare category for her hard work of informing people about risks and prevention of the virus. As a single mother of three, she organized material procurement needed for mask production and took a leading role in the distribution of protective equipment.

Katalin Balatoni, a folk dance teacher, won the education category. She provided online content for those in Hungary in Hungarian, as well for those in the Carpathian Basin and all over the world.

Marika Klenik won the social care category. She left her grandchildren to move into an elderly care facility. She was there to help and encourage the residents, also taking up a role in mask production.

The female members of the Virology Research group of the Szentágothai János Research Center at the University of Pécs won the other category for their work in testing basic pharmaceutical products for their effectiveness in the inhibition of coronavirus.

This year’s ceremony took place at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest on Monday.

October 9 - 11:53 AM: 1,176 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 35,222. In compulsory home quarantine: 22,385. Recovered: 9,202. Deceased: 913.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 25,107. The results show that 34 percent of those infected, 47 percent of the deceased, and 34 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 993 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 82 of whom are on ventilators.

October 8 - 10:01 AM: 932 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 34,046. In compulsory home quarantine: 20,217. Recovered: 9,187. Deceased: 898.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 23,961. The results show that 35 percent of those infected, 48 percent of the deceased, and 34 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 804 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 56 of whom are on ventilators.

October 7 - 10:54 AM: 816 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 33,114. In compulsory home quarantine: 20,319. Recovered: 9,149. Deceased: 877.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 23,088. The results show that 35 percent of those infected, 49 percent of the deceased, and 33 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 656 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 41 of whom are on ventilators.

October 6 - 10:49 AM: 818 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 32,298. In compulsory home quarantine: 20,088. Recovered: 8,723. Deceased: 853.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 22,722. The results show that 35 percent of those infected, 50 percent of the deceased, and 34 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 627 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 37 of whom are on ventilators.

October 5 - 10:59 AM: 905 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 31,480. In compulsory home quarantine: 20,199. Recovered: 8,165. Deceased: 833.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 22,482. The results show that 35 percent of those infected, 51 percent of the deceased, and 35 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 649 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 40 of whom are on ventilators.

October 4 - 10:56 AM: 858 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 30,575. In compulsory home quarantine: 19,923. Recovered: 7,470. Deceased: 822.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 22,081. The results show that 36 percent of those infected, 51 percent of the deceased, and 34 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 685 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 42 of whom are on ventilators.

October 3 - 11:14 AM: 1,086 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 29,717. In compulsory home quarantine: 22,749. Recovered: 6,824. Deceased: 812.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 22,081. The results show that 36 percent of those infected, 52 percent of the deceased, and 35 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 704 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 43 of whom are on ventilators.

October 2 - 10:46 AM: 1,322 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 28,631. In compulsory home quarantine: 22,906. Recovered: 6,349. Deceased: 798.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 21,484. The results show that 36 percent of those infected, 52 percent of the deceased, and 37 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 740 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 47 of whom are on ventilators.

October 1 - 10:23 AM: 848 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 27,309. In compulsory home quarantine: 21,930. Recovered: 6,118. Deceased: 781.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 20,410. The results show that 37 percent of those infected, 53 percent of the deceased, and 37 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 757 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 52 of whom are on ventilators.

September 30 - 12:04 PM: Hungarian government will decide today on whether to extend controls along country’s Schengen borders

The Hungarian government will decide today on whether to extend the current controls along the country’s Schengen borders.

According to MTI, Róbert Kiss noted that the government had decided to temporarily re-introduce controls along the entire Schengen borders, involving 127 crossing points, including five for international transit.

Meanwhile, the chief medical officer has said the sharp uptick in the spread of coronavirus was starting to flatten out across the nation. Cecília Müller told the news conference that “the dynamics of the epidemic have changed favourably”, noting that the number of new cases was no longer increasing rapidly. While a month ago the number of new infections tripled from one week to the next, in recent days it has increased by a mere 2 percent, she said.

The reproduction rate of the virus has now fallen back from an earlier value of 2 to just above 1, which means that an infected person transmits the virus to no more than one other person, she said. People should continue to strictly observe the rules because “the disease is everywhere and anyone could contract it”, she added.

September 30 - 11:27 AM: 894 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 26,461. In compulsory home quarantine: 24,121. Recovered: 5,890. Deceased: 765.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 19,806. The results show that 37 percent of those infected, 53 percent of the deceased, and 38 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 773 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 54 of whom are on ventilators.

September 29 - 12:02 PM: PM Orbán: Hungary will procure a vaccine for the novel coronavirus

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said Hungary will procure a vaccine for the novel coronavirus and it will be made available to all Hungarians who want it.

In an interview with commercial broadcaster TV2, PM Orbán said that Hungary had successfully defeated the epidemic once and would do so again. PM Orbán said, “Brussels estimates the vaccine will be ready by 2021, while the Americans expected it to be ready by the end of the year”. “We’ll be free from this misery, and we will endure it until then,” PM Orbán said. 

The prime minister said the country’s healthcare system and economy would function. “We won’t retreat; we’ll preserve Hungary’s chance of coming out of this crisis fortified.” Hungary is in ongoing talks with the US, Japan, China and Russia concerning a vaccine, and it has contributed to research programmes funded by the EU, he said. “Chances are not bad,” he said, adding that one of these “great centres of force” would be able to offer a vaccine to the world within a year.

According to MTI, PM Orbán noted the elderly continued to be at risk, as the epidemic was picking up again. There is great pressure on the health-care and education systems, and that pressure would remain high for “the next few months,” he said. Epidemic defence has to be developed so that people can accept it, PM Orbán said. The government’s National Consultation survey served that end, and have shown that the people wanted to protect themselves but did not want the country to come to a standstill, PM Orbán said. “Hungary must function,” he said. “If health-care workers persevere, and if they manage to bear the growing psychological burden too, we will make it – we will succeed as we did in the spring,” PM Orbán said. He said that, hopefully, people would stick to the rules during the “cool autumn” more than they had done in the summer.

The prime minister said there were enough doctors and nurses and the necessary equipment – including beds, protective gear and ventilators – was at hand. The hospitals will be activated in a set order, he said, adding that, currently, the first eight hospitals had been assigned to participate in the protection efforts. Once they are full, the second tier will be activated, and so on. Doctors and nurses will be deployed where they are needed the most, he said.

Hungary is monitoring developments in neighbouring countries, he said. “The only one I don’t understand is the Czech Republic: the numbers are off the scale there; we have to watch that,” PM Orbán said. The border closure is still necessary as it is instrumental in “cutting the transmission lines” of the epidemic, he said. The prime minister said the country’s health-care system and economy would function. “We won’t retreat; we’ll preserve Hungary’s chance of coming out of this crisis fortified.”

PM Orbán also welcomed that the ratings agency Moody’s on Friday changed Hungary’s rating outlook from stable to positive. He added, however, that his single point of focus was preserving jobs. “If there is work, if there are jobs, there will be growth and good ratings,” he said. The government’s policy can be summed up in “tax cuts, investments and developments,” he added. If it comes to it, the state will also be able to hire people, he said, adding that while not optimal, it nevertheless provides households with opportunities “and puts bread on the table”. Traditional fostered job schemes are also a possibility; again far from ideal but “better than nothing”, PM Orbán said. He said public wages would certainly have to be raised over the next year.

The prime minister said more people are working in Hungary now than in January and March, with more than 4.5 million people in work. Ten years ago, he noted, when Fidesz took over the reins of government from the Socialists, 3.6 to 3.7 million people were in employment. People, he said, were sceptical that Fidesz’s jobs pledges could be achieved. PM Orbán added that the ultimate aim was for 5 million people in employment, “but that’s not a task for the coming months”. He said the real question was whether entrepreneurs would be able to create new and more competitive jobs. Around the world, an upheaval is taking place in terms of the workforce, production and capacity relocations, he said, adding that Hungary had to enter the fray.

September 29 - 10:37 AM: 851 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 25,567. In compulsory home quarantine: 23,740. Recovered: 5,173. Deceased: 757.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 19,637. The results show that 37 percent of those infected, 54 percent of the deceased, and 39 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 755 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 51 of whom are on ventilators.

September 28 - 11:54 AM: 702 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary 

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 24,716. In compulsory home quarantine: 24,017. Recovered: 5,152. Deceased: 749.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 18,815. The results show that 37 percent of those infected, 54 percent of the deceased, and 39 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 693 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 44 of whom are on ventilators.

September 28 - 11:45 AM: PM Orbán: All the conditions are in place to treat Covid-19 patients

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said all the conditions are in place in the country to treat Covid-19 patients, adding that the country has a sufficient number of hospital beds, staff and enough medical equipment.

In a video on his Facebook page posted after a meeting of the operative board in charge of coronavirus-related measures, PM Orbán noted that the second wave of the epidemic was under way “with strong momentum”. He said hospital capacity is reviewed regularly at operational board meetings in terms of whether there are a sufficient number of beds, doctors and staff, as well as the amount of equipment such as ventilators. The prime minister said additional hospitals set up to handle a surge of patients were available, but for now there was no need to open them.

Touching on another topic, PM Orbán said in an interview with Reuters that the debate on the rule of law was a ruse by some EU member states to put a spanner in the works of certain budgetary and financial plans. Creating a link between the rule of law and the EU financing amounts to an attempt to block the European Council’s policy on the Next Generation EU, he said. “It’s not about the rule of law,” PM Orbán said, but rather about how some countries want to prevent the implementation of a decision made in the summer.

September 28 - 11:30 AM: CMO urges citizens to abide by the rules to control the coronavirus

Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller has urged citizens to abide by the rules in place to control the spread of the coronavirus, warning that, otherwise, further restrictions would need to be introduced.

The CMO said the current stage of the epidemic was characterised by community transmissions of the virus. She called on the elderly to avoid crowded places and to go to the shops early in the day.

More generally, Müller recommended being outdoors and doing sports as much as possible. She added, however, that as the weather worsens people would find themselves inside, so mask-wearing should be taken seriously.

September 27 - 10:25 AM: 937 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary 

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 24,014. In compulsory home quarantine: 24,538. Recovered: 5,141. Deceased: 736.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 18,137. The results show that 37 percent of those infected, 54 percent of the deceased, and 39 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 620 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 38 of whom are on ventilators.

September 26 - 09:25 AM: 23,077 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary 

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 23,077. In compulsory home quarantine: 25,017. Recovered: 5,099. Deceased: 730.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 17,248. The results show that 38 percent of those infected, 55 percent of the deceased, and 39 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 589 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 36 of whom are on ventilators.

September 25 - 12:46 PM: PM Orbán inspects coronavirus facilities at St. László Hospital

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Interior Minister Sándor Pintér visited the St. László Hospital in Budapest to observe preparations for receiving coronavirus patients.

In a video posted on Facebook, PM Orbán talked to the head physician, who said the number of out-patients was “manageable” but there were a lot of people coming in to be tested for the coronavirus.

PM Orbán inspected the hospital tents set up in the courtyard. Another physician told him that the hospital hoped to increase the number of beds available for Covid-19 patients to 180 from 140.

September 25 - 11:09 AM: 22,127 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary 

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 22,127. In compulsory home quarantine: 25,374. Recovered: 4,945. Deceased: 718.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 16,464. The results show that 38 percent of those infected, 55 percent of the deceased, and 39 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 577 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 30 of whom are on ventilators.

September 24 - 11:07 AM: GPs can now confirm Covid-19 cases without positive PCR test

As of Monday, the NCPH released a new policy stating that general practitioners can diagnose suspected Covid-19 cases without a positive test result. GPs can classify them if patients present with Coronavirus-like symptoms (newly developed cough, fever, difficulty breathing, loss of smell, possible lack or distortion of taste).

Another new rule is that PCR testing is only mandatory for those who have been in contact with a person confirmed to have Covid-19 and for those who work in or are cared for in healthcare institutions or long-term care facilities.

Those classified by their GP as infected can only be instructed to self-isolate and will not be placed in an official home quarantine.

The current quarantine guidelines have been reduced from 14 to 10 days. After those classified as infected or close contacts have completed their 10-day self-isolation they may return to their normal lives without presenting a negative PCR test.

September 24 - 10:47 AM: 21,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary 

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 21,200. In compulsory home quarantine: 27,403. Recovered: 4,818. Deceased: 709.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 15,673. The results show that 39 percent of those infected, 56 percent of the deceased, and 39 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 549 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 32 of whom are on ventilators.

September 23 - 11:37 AM: Home quarantine for travellers entering Hungary from abroad has been lowered to 10 days

The Operative Board has confirmed that mandatory quarantine for travellers entering Hungary from abroad has been lowered from 14 to 10 days.

Róbert Kiss said the amendment of the relevant government decree came into force on Monday. He added that apart from quarantine, foreign citizens must also show permission issued by the police before they are allowed into the country.

In the past 24 hours, 3,062 people have been ordered into self-quarantine, 774 of them upon entering across the border. Currently, 25,212 are in home quarantine. Kiss said that of those self-isolating, 1,823 have allowed the authorities to electronically control compliance with quarantine regulations, noting electronic verification eliminates the dangers associated with physical checks without affecting data management.

On Monday, the authorities took action in 49 cases due to people neglecting to wear masks or wearing them incorrectly, he said. Twenty-two cases took place on public transport, while 27 were in shopping centers, he added.

September 23 - 11:26 AM: 20,450 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary 

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 20,450. In compulsory home quarantine: 27,449. Recovered: 4,644. Deceased: 702.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 15,104. The results show that 39 percent of those infected, 56 percent of the deceased, and 40 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 558 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 35 of whom are on ventilators.

September 22 - 11:00 AM: 19,499 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary 

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 19,499. In compulsory home quarantine: 25,212. Recovered: 4,559. Deceased: 694.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 14,246. The results show that 40 percent of those infected, 57 percent of the deceased, and 40 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 534 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 36 of whom are on ventilators.

September 22 - 10:50 AM: PM Orbán: Failure by young people to follow the rules could endanger the elderly and the sick

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has warned that a failure by young people to follow the rules could endanger the elderly and the sick. “Now the effectiveness of our defense against the pandemic really depends on us,” the prime minister said in his speech to lawmakers.

According to MTI, the prime minister said the government has capped the price of coronavirus tests at HUF 19,500 and decided that clubs and bars must close by 11pm.

PM Orbán said Hungarian healthcare was equipped to face twice the number of coronavirus infections as that modelled in worst-case scenarios. He said “doctors and mathematicians” estimated, at the severe end of the scale, that Hungary may contend with 200,000 coronavirus infections, with 16,000 requiring hospitalization and 800 patients on ventilators. The government has made preparations to accommodate twice that number, with 66,000 hospital beds available, he said. The health-care system continues to operate under a chain of command so that when certain hospitals reach maximum capacity others are activated, he said.

On the subject of the economy, PM Orbán said the government was committed to protecting jobs, noting that by August, 4.5 million people were employed compared with 4.458 million in January. Overall, nearly one million were benefitting from some sort of employment or job support.

A total of 15,000 businesses have applied for the government’s investment support scheme, saving over 207,000 jobs, he said. Some 37,000 companies have applied for the wage support scheme with a commitment to creating 49,000 new jobs. The government provided a 40 percent wage subsidy to the R&D&I sector for a period of three months, the prime minister said, adding that some 1,100 businesses applied for funding and the scheme benefitted 23,000 people.

To protect households, the government has extended a loan moratorium on mortgages for families, pensioners, jobseekers and fostered workers to July 1, 2021, PM Orbán said. This will secure the households of 1.6 million people and the scheme has left families and businesses with an additional HUF 2,000 billion, he said. PM Orbán insisted that Hungary had been the only nation to show such a level of solidarity with its citizens during the coronavirus crisis.

September 22 - 10:30 AM: Younger generation hit by coronavirus

Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller has revealed that the average age of Covid cases is now lower than during the first wave in the Spring.

Earlier this year, the coronavirus was mainly affecting the elderly, now it is targeting those from the 20-29 age group. The virus may not present as deadly to those in this age range as some can be asymptomatic.

The CMO said the issue we face is the younger generation spreading the virus to those most at risk, the elderly. However, Müller said that “we are now more acquainted with the nature of the virus, the spread of the epidemic.” Based on international practice, Hungary along with Austria and other countries has reduced the mandatory 14-day quarantine to 10 days as of Monday.

According to koronavirus.gov.hu, registered coronavirus infections hit a record high on Sunday with 1,070 positive cases over a 24-hour period. Therefore, Müller has urged the young generation to follow the rules so as to help stop the spread of the virus.

One of the new rules as of Monday includes wearing proper masks instead of scarves or other materials that cover the face. Fines can now be expected for violators and establishment owners if they are found to not be following the mask-wearing guidelines.

September 22 - 10:20 AM: PM Orbán: Hungary is better prepared to confront the coronavirus

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Hungary is better prepared to confront the coronavirus now than when the disease first emerged in the spring. “We have a tough period behind us and a difficult one ahead,” the prime minister said in his speech opening the autumn session of parliament.

According to MTI, PM Orbán said the country had built up a bank of experiences from the previous wave and also had the outcome of its National Consultation public survey at hand, indicating that “people clearly want to see Hungary functioning”. He said citizens had entrusted government to ensure that “lives are saved and jobs are protected, and everyday life is not paralyzed by the virus.”

The prime minister said that today there was no reason to fear that anyone would be left without proper treatment. At the same time, PM Orbán noted that the government last week decided to keep restrictions on entry in place and make mask-wearing mandatory in enclosed public spaces.

The prime minister said that those found in violation of the rules on wearing face masks face a fine of up to HUF 50,000 (EUR 138), adding that he has submitted a bill that would see the fine increased. The blanket visiting ban for hospitals and retirement homes has also been upheld, he noted.

September 21 - 12:15 PM: Government to introduce further economy protection measures for second wave

The finance minister has confirmed that the government will introduce further economy protection measures because the economy must be kept functional during the second wave of the pandemic.

Mihály Varga, Minister of Finance, said, in an interview published in Magyar Nemzet on Saturday, that the planned measures include targeted tax reductions and supporting construction businesses.

The minister said that one of the priorities of the government is to keep the economy functioning. This will require stimulating demand in certain sectors such as tourism and construction, protecting jobs, and providing new production opportunities by supporting investments. Finally, care must be taken to ensure that the billions of public spending on crisis management support efficient and competitive economic solutions, he added.

In the first wave of the pandemic, targeted tax cuts were successfully implemented in crisis-hit sectors. There is also scope for reintroducing such solutions now, and extending the credit repayment moratorium can help families and companies facing temporary difficulties, he said.

Regarding the financing, according to MTI, he indicated that it is possible to use EU funds for a number of public investments that were going to be financed from the national budget, including a wide range of developments from road constructions to hospital renovations. “One of the most important tasks of the current period is to accumulate reserves as much as possible because today no one can see and know for sure how long the economic impact caused by the pandemic will last,” Minister Varga said.

Three scenarios are projected for next year: if the vaccine is already available in the second quarter of 2021, Hungary’s economy could grow by 4-5 percent, the minister said, noting that this is an optimistic scenario. “If the vaccine is not available by the middle of next year, our pessimistic calculations suggest we could see economic growth of just over zero. We also consider a third option possible: assuming there is a vaccine, but due to a protracted, slow recovery, GDP growth could be around 3-4 percent,” he said.

Speaking about this year’s figures, Varga said that although the spring economy protection measures have yielded results, they are not sufficient for Hungary to avoid the negative trends of the global economy. This year, Hungary’s GDP could contract by 5-6 percent, with a central budget deficit of 7-9 percent, and the government debt could rise from 66 percent at the beginning of the year to 76-78 percent of GDP.

September 21 - 12:08 PM: PM Orbán: Government will extend the moratorium on loan repayments for another six months

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced that the government will extend the moratorium on loan repayments for another six months.

MTI states that the moratorium was introduced last spring to ease the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus crisis. The prime minister said jobs and the living standards of families must be protected during the epidemic.

Following a meeting of the Economic Operative Corps, the prime minister said the automatic opt-in moratorium will be extended for families raising children, pensioners, people without a job and those participating in public work schemes.

Businesses will have to apply for an extension and if they suffered a more than 25 percent revenue loss during the crisis, they will be granted the option, PM Orbán said. Furthermore, the government will impose a six-month termination ban on all retail and business loans taken out before the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The repayment moratorium has so far helped 1.6 million families and 60,000 businesses, leaving HUF 2,000 billion (EUR 16.6bn) with debtors until December, PM Orbán said.

September 21 - 10:26 AM: Coronavirus Update: 18,866 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 18,866. In compulsory home quarantine: 26,750. Recovered: 4,401. Deceased: 686.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 13,779. The results show that 40 percent of those infected, 57 percent of the deceased, and 40 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 463 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 35 of whom are on ventilators.

September 20: 1070 new confirmed COVID-19 cases encountered in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 17,990. In compulsory home quarantine: 25,583. Recovered: 4,391. Deceased: 683.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 12,916. The results show that 41 percent of those infected, 58 percent of the deceased, and 40 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 404 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 32 of whom are on ventilators.

September 19: 809 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 16,920. In compulsory home quarantine: 28,527. Recovered: 4,382. Deceased: 675.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 11,863. The results show that 41 percent of those infected, 58 percent of the deceased, and 40 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 386 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 30 of whom are on ventilators.

September 18 - 11:55 AM: Semmelweis University working on a new way to test for COVID-19 in saliva

Semmelweis University in Hungary is working on a new way to test for the coronavirus through saliva. 

The current PCR testing method can be uncomfortable and deter people from getting tested all together. The test involves collecting nasal and throat swabs by medically trained personnel.

In collaboration with other researchers, the university is testing out a variety of different saliva sample collection methods (saliva drip test, pooling saliva in the mouth, drooling technique, etc.) to help determine which is the most accurate. Results found that in the various methods tried, the virus was detected consistently.

The new testing method will cut down on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and swab usage. Testing with saliva is a promising new and improved way to test for the virus.

September 18 - 11:30 AM: PCR tests free of charge if prescribed by GP

PCR tests to ascertain the presence of the coronavirus will be provided free of charge to patients if the test is prescribed by their general practitioner.

State Secretary Csaba Dömötör noted that the government recently put a cap of HUF 19,500 (EUR 54) on the price of these tests, adding that patients tested on a voluntary basis, such as when returning from abroad, would be charged that amount.

The state secretary said that tests performed in hospital or ordered by an authority as part of a protocol will also be free, adding that the 580,000 tests so far performed in Hungary had “mostly” been free. The goal is to prevent “profiteering” on the tests, Dömötör said.

September 18 - 11:20 AM: VirusRadar app to help limit the spread of the coronavirus

László Palkovics, Minister for Innovation and Technology, has urged those residing in Hungary to download the new VirusRadar app to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

VirusRadar can help with contact tracing. Once downloaded, the app is able to detect via Bluetooth if it has been in contact with another phone within a two-meter radius for more than 15 minutes. If a user of the device becomes infected with the virus they are able to share that information with epidemiologists.

Once the information is shared and a confirmed positive case is found, authorities will be able to trace who was in contact with the infected person to help slow the virus. Being able to contact trace will help to slow the continued spread of the virus and is now more important than ever. This app will help aid in keeping Hungary open, protect jobs and avoid online education.

László Palkovics, Minister for Innovation and Technology, and Government Spokesman Alexandra Szentkirályi, urged everyone under 40-years-old to download the app, as they are more likely to go out of the house and come into contact with the virus.

Find out more about the VirusRadar app here.

September 18 - 11:00 AM: 16,111 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 16,111. In compulsory home quarantine: 27,866. Recovered: 4,240. Deceased: 669.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 11,202. The results show that 42 percent of those infected, 58 percent of the deceased, and 41 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 374 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 29 of whom are on ventilators.

September 17 - 10:00 AM: Hungarian government caps the price of coronavirus tests

The Hungarian government has capped the price of coronavirus tests at HUF 19,500 (EUR 54) and decided that clubs will have to close by 11pm to curb the spread of the virus.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Facebook.that restrictions on entry imposed from Sept. 1 will remain in place and wearing a face mask will be made mandatory in public transport, in cinemas, theaters, health and social institutions and public offices.

PM Orbán said that the blanket visiting ban for hospitals and retirement homes will also remain in place. Concerning schools, the prime minister said that from Oct. 1, only teachers and students will be allowed into school buildings and will be required to undergo temperature screening upon entry.

Citing epidemiologists, the prime minister said the second wave of the epidemic was expected to peak around December or January, adding that Hungary would have to keep up protection efforts until then. “We have a strategy that centers on protecting the elderly and treating those who are ill while making sure that the country is able to function,” he said.

PM Orbán asked the public to observe the regulations and said that he has instructed the interior minister to monitor compliance with the rules and penalise those who violate them.

September 17 - 09:50 AM: 710 new cases of COVID-19 in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 15,170. In compulsory home quarantine: 28,920. Recovered: 4,227. Deceased: 663.

The total number of active COVID-19 cases is 10,280. The results show that 43 percent of those infected, 58 percent of the deceased, and 42 percent of those recovered live in Budapest. There are currently 328 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus, 21 of whom are on ventilators.

September 16 - 10:30 AM: Hungary and Austria take similar measures to halt the coronavirus epidemic

Following talks with Austrian political leaders in Vienna, Gergely Gulyás, Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said the Hungarian and Austrian governments have taken similar measures to halt the novel coronavirus epidemic.

“It is a shared view that the tasks are the same: to protect the health of the people and ensure the operation of the country,” Gergely Gulyás told MTI, assessing his one-day visit to the Austrian capital.

Minister Gulyás held talks with EU Affairs Minister Karoline Edtstadler, Integration Minister Susanne Raab and Karlheinz Kopf, second president of the National Council, as well as the secretary general of the governing ÖVP party and the leader of opposition FPÖ. “We hope that our efforts will be successful and life can soon return to normal,” he said.

The minister said relations between the Hungarian and Austrian governments are sound, the two countries are partners and allies, adding that Hungary has friendly relations with both the ÖVP and the FPÖ. He said both governments are aware of the new dangers posed by migration, which has once again become a focus of European politics since the latest developments in the refugee camp in Moria on the island of Lesbos. They are also committed to implementing the accord reached at the EU summit in July, Gulyás said.

September 16 - 10:15 AM: Top priority is to make sure the Hungarian economy stays afloat during pandemic

The finance minister said the top priority of economic policy during the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic is to make sure the Hungarian economy stays afloat and that jobs and enterprises are protected and supported.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Joint Venture Association (JVSZ), Mihály Varga said the government will unveil new measures to protect the economy in the next few weeks. The minister said the economy was now more resilient to knocks and more stable than in 2008, and the policymaking of recent years combined with timely protection measures had gone a long way towards insulating the Hungarian economy from the kind of bigger shocks seen elsewhere in the European Union. Hungary, he said, must return to growth as soon as possible, adding that this aim may be achieved next year.

The country’s operative board for protecting the economy was established with the main aim of removing obstacles to growth, and the board will continue the work it began in the summer, he said. Varga said that whereas the public debt would rise this year, it would start easing again next year. Domestic investors are playing a greater role in financing the public debt, he said. The government aims to ensure that Hungarian businesses emerge stronger from the crisis, the minister added.

September 16 - 10:02 AM: 14,160 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hungary

The number of confirmed people infected with the coronavirus in Hungary now stands at 14,460. In compulsory home quarantine: 2