September 2nd saw a record in the coronavirus outbreak both in terms of new and active cases. It was back on May 4th, the first day of the easing of restrictions when the active cases were close to this peak (2,054).
With 365 new cases registered in 24 hours, the official number of active cases in Hungary has gone up to 2,100, a number that the country did not experience even during the spring lockdown.
The fact that the rate of the number of active infections has increased this much is also very worrying, as the number of active cases has doubled in less than one week: last Thursday, there were only 1,008 active infections registered in Hungary.
Interestingly, the last day with record high active cases, May 4th, was the date when the first lifting of the strict curfew restrictions entered into effect at least in the countryside (in reference to a higher number of cases, in Budapest there were no changes). Ahead of May 4th, Hungary underwent perhaps the largest curfew and mobility restrictions during peace time in its history. At the moment, such regulations are not in effect (yet), the two most significant ones being the border restrictions and ban on events with more than 500 people. However, it is clear that unlike in May, when the virus peaked in Hungary, this time we are far from that and a significant rise in the number is expected.
Perhaps a more optimistic aspect is that, according to the graph of unofficial coronavirus info page pandemia.hu, the percentage of those cared for in hospitals and/or are on ventilators are considerably lower than in spring, probably due to the fact that at the moment, the virus tends to spread among youngsters. In spring this was not the case, and elderly homes and hospitals were where coronavirus spread the most.
In an interview with economic site Portfolio, Gergely Röst, a mathematician who heads the Epidemiological Modeling and Epidemiological Analysis Working Group that advises the government, also revealed that while the median age of the cases was 69 years in April, it is now 31 years. This means that half of the cases are found in those under 31 years of age.
Röst also argued that the proportion of cases brought in from abroad and related to them is already less than 10%, as the domestic cases are now increasing. In his view, therefore, the trend cannot be offset anymore by border closures, it is now time to focus on the domestic spread. And to do that, raising the efficacy of testing and contact tracing is a must. In comparison to Austria, the Czech Rep., and Slovakia, Hungary still tests fewer people, although the number of tests performed shows an increasing tendency since July.
featured image via Zoltán Balogh/MTI