In an exclusive interview on M1 television, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán talked about the latest restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. “There are moments when we must take action, without any hesitation,” he said, adding that in terms of the current trend and numbers, “we are around two weeks behind Austria, and Austria took similar action two weeks ago.”
He also pointed out that Western European countries made these decisions earlier, but Hungary is in a better situation; the country is third in Europe in terms of the number of hospital beds and first in terms of the number of ventilators.
“However, several experts said that there is a 50-50 chance that the healthcare system would collapse without further restrictions, and we can’t take that risk,” the prime minister emphasized. Our doctors and nurses are doing an outstanding job, the supply of protective equipment is infinite, medical students are also ready to help, but there are only so many patients that a doctor can care for, he pointed out.
Talking about the reasons behind the new restrictions, PM Orbán noted that they are not a consequence of people not following the previous rules. “Everyone followed the rules; had they not, we would have arrived at this point much sooner. But this kind of defense was only enough up until now,” Viktor Orbán said.
Touching upon the question of rapid tests, the prime minister said “we need to be honest about these tests. If a rapid test is positive, that means an approximately 90 percent accuracy. If it is negative, that means only a 50-60 percent accuracy. But it is still better than nothing; that’s why we test all healthcare workers as well as elementary school and kindergarten teachers every week,” PM Orbán said. “But this is the reason we ask the opposition to be patient when they demand comprehensive testing. Slovakia has just tested its entire population after much debate; let’s wait to see the results there first.”
On the topic of people getting tired of the pandemic, Viktor Orbán pointed out that “Hungarians are smart people; I hope that they grasp how serious the current situation is. We have already succeeded once in March, and we will succeed again. All football matches last for two halves: In the second, players are tired, but they’ve already gotten through the first half. We must hang on.”
Answering a question about the vaccination, the prime minister said that the vaccine is much closer than it was in the spring. “Vaccination is the only solution; only the vaccine can protect us. And it is not too far away.” He also pointed out that Hungary is expecting a shipment from the EU in December or January, but this will only be enough to vaccinate healthcare workers, police officers and possibly groups that are most at risk. “But there are other options on the table, from Russia, China and Israel [...] there are other possible sources.”
Finally, speaking about the economy, Viktor Orbán said the current measures can only help troubled sectors for the next 30 days, for the period of the special legal order. “Two weeks from now, we will see the results; if the results are good, hopefully we can get rid of the restrictions by Christmas,” he said. The PM added that as soon “as the epidemic is over, we can restart the economy. Economic actions also must be taken at the right time. And the new Economy Protection Action Plan is already being developed.”