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Apr 29, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Hungary's medical universities mapping virus across country

Hungary’s medical universities are launching a screening program on Friday to estimate the actual number of people infected with the coronavirus and their spread across the country.

 

Hungary’s medical universities are launching a screening program on Friday to estimate the actual number of people infected with the coronavirus and their spread across the country.

Béla Merkely, the head of Budapest’s Semmelweis University, said PCR tests will be conducted with a representative sample of some 18,000 people over the age of 14. The results could show how many people have contracted the virus so far, how many have acquired immunity and how many may still be transmitting the virus while showing no symptoms themselves.

According to MTI, Merkely added that people invited to participate in the program have been selected by the Statistical Office from across the country. He said that participation in the program was voluntary, but added that “those invited have a great responsibility”.

Concerning the actual tests, Merkely said that both mucus and blood samples would be used to detect presence of the virus as well as the patient’s immune reaction to an earlier infection. The tests will be conducted between May 1-14, at GPs’ offices, local outpatient clinics and on special buses, while the results of the national survey are expected to come back before the end of May, the professor said.

Merkely said the screening would be repeated at least twice during the epidemic, with at least one month between two rounds. The screening program is conducted by the medical universities of Budapest, Debrecen, Szeged, and Pécs.

The professor said that the restrictions, introduced at an early stage of the epidemic, have been effective to avoid mass infections. The restrictions could “soon be eased and life return to normal”, which is crucial for the economy, he said, but also warned that continued control was necessary.

A call center set up for advice on the coronavirus can be reached on +36-80-277-455 and +36-80-277-456 or by email koronavirus@bm.gov.hu