Three more people infected in Hungary

According to a post on Tuesday on the government information website, another three cases have emerged in Hungary, bringing the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country to 12.

Fully 67 people are in quarantine, while samples have been taken from 362 people suspected of carrying the virus, the website said. The three new virus cases, all of them Iranian students studying at the medical Semmelweis University, were diagnosed at St. Laszlo hospital where they have been under observation for several days.

Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air on Tuesday said it is cancelling flights to Italy and Israel because of restrictions introduced to contain the new coronavirus. Wizz Air is cancelling flights to Alghero, Bari, Bologna, Catania, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Rome, Turin, Venice, Treviso and Verona from Tuesday until April 3.  It is cancelling flights to Tel Aviv and Eilat from March 12 until March 23.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pledged government support for economic players that suffer losses due to the new coronavirus. Speaking at an event on Tuesday organised by the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK), Orban referred to a new action plan in the making to protect the economy, and asked the chamber to collect and forward by the end of April feedback from economic players concerning which sectors are expected to experience difficulties.

Orban said that rather than introducing blanket macroeconomic measures, specific sectors such as tourism would need targeted help, and the government is prepared to create the appropriate financial conditions. The budgets for this year and next will be redrafted to take into consideration additional billions of euros needed for economic stimulation measures, he added. Solutions must be geared towards ensuring that the economic downturn does not match that of the 2008-2009 economic crisis, he said, adding that Hungary must maintain its growth advantage over the EU. Orban said preparations must be made for a global pandemic, adding that “everyone must step out of their comfort zone”.

He said “psychological uncertainty” due to the lack of a vaccine for the new coronavirus was here to stay, and this would engender a “defensive stance” influencing economic activity. China, he added, took 5-6 months to slow the virus down, which for Europe would mean the epidemic would last until the peak of the tourist season in July. So a major economic downturn was likely for those countries that depend on tourism to a greater degree than others, he added. The prime minister warned that preparations must be made for “brutal changes”. “If all we do in the next ten years is as much as we did in the past ten, then we will be ruined,” he said.

Later Orban had a conference call with his EU counterparts. In the call initiated by European Council President Charles Michel, Orban told his counterparts that the Hungarian authorities had the coronavirus situation under control, noting that only individual cases had been identified in the country so far. All confirmed cases have been quarantined, he said, adding that the world must find a balance between understating the seriousness of the situation and panic, Bertalan Havasi said. The prime minister also highlighted Hungary’s “excellent cooperation” with the Austrian authorities. Orban said there was a clear link between illegal migration and the coronavirus outbreak, arguing that a number of migrants who arrived in Europe either came from Iran or passed through it. Hungary has therefore strengthened the protection of its borders and temporarily sealed its transit zones, he said.

Hungary’s operative board in charge of handling the new coronavirus outbreak has called for the cancellation of all events to mark the March 15 national holiday. At a press briefing on Tuesday, Tibor Lakatos, head of the board’s emergency centre, advised people over 60 to avoid public gatherings and large crowds. Those returning from Italy, he added, are asked to stay at home, along with their children, for a period of 14 days regardless of whether or not they exhibit symptoms of the virus. Lakatos said the board had begun working on measures to be implemented at Schengen land border crossing points, which will include screening all entrants for fever.

Source and photo: MTI


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