Discussing recent news on the coronavirus epidemic, the prime minister called the Omicron variant a new challenge since it is spreading much faster than any previous variant. This “is bad news,” PM Orbán said, adding that the “good news” is that it tends to cause milder symptoms. Citing recent figures, he noted that the number of people infected is rapidly rising; however, the number of those on ventilators has fallen and the number of those hospitalized is rising more slowly than the spread of the virus.
He reiterated recent pandemic measures, namely that as of February 15, immunity certificates will be linked to vaccination only and those who have recovered from the virus will not be regarded as immunized. Furthermore, due to the fact that recovery is faster from the new variant, the quarantine period has been shortened to 7 days, or 5 days with a negative test. He also mentioned that in January, those wishing to get vaccinated may do so without having to book an appointment every Thursday and Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at vaccination points.
Commenting on the opposition’s attacks on protective measures, he said there is a Europe-wide debate on protection against the virus; however, the Hungarian Left is producing videos with false or misleading information, which is an insult to healthcare workers. Mass vaccination has been very well organized, and this is something to be proud of, the prime minister said.
The prime minister also elaborated on the government’s communication that “Hungary is moving forward, not backward.” He said it represents the struggle Hungary has been waging over the past 12 years to correct the mistakes of previous governments: Instead of unemployment, we are now facing a labor shortage; tax rates are good, especially by European standards; economic growth is reaching 7 percent; the minimum wage is increasing; and the 13th month pension has been restored. He also warned that Hungary would take a step backward with the Left because not only have they made mistakes during their time in government, but they have also tried to torpedo the measures taken to correct them.
Inflation is at a record high in Europe, and the Hungarian government is not “wringing its hands” like the liberal economists; instead, it is taking extraordinary measures, such as freezing fuel and food prices, he pointed out. “The ‘forward, not backward’ phrase is telling us to learn from history, and not return to where troubles await us yet again,” the prime minister said.
On healthcare, he said that the Left wants to convince us that private capital, instead of state-run healthcare, is safer. Anyone is allowed to invest their money into private healthcare, but “public money will not be available for these purposes,” as it will be spent on the development of public healthcare, he emphasized, adding that healthcare workers also share this view. “I am working to make the state-controlled public healthcare system as good as possible.”
Finally, on the subject of migration, PM Orbán confirmed that the number of illegal attempts to enter Hungary has steadily grown and that Hungarians are probably not aware of the incredible work our soldiers and police are doing at the border. In just two weeks this year, 4,200 illegal border-crossers were apprehended, he said, stressing that “migration as a threat and danger is a reality we must live with and one that will remain with us in the coming years as well.
Prime Minister Orbán said that the EU’s position to fund migration rather than border protection is shocking. Hungarians do not share the view that the economy needs migrants to rebuild after the epidemic, he said. “We are protecting Europe's borders, and since 2015, doing so has cost us Hungarians HUF 600 billion, about the same as the total personal income tax rebate for families for a full year.”
Many European countries call themselves countries of immigration, but “we want to leave the country to our children,” he said in conclusion.