According to virus experts, virologists, mathematicians and experts from the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (ITM), the number of deaths caused by the coronavirus epidemic is expected to rise sharply in early October. Based on epidemiological observations, the increase in the number of infections is followed by an increase in the number of deaths in 5-7 weeks.
Leftist daily Népszava reported that according to the forecasts of the epidemiology group of the Ministry of Innovation, the possible impending surge in deaths due to the virus can be inferred from the fact that the epidemic has typically spread among young people in recent weeks. In August, ITM analysts warned that a similar process has been taking place in Florida, southern France and Spain, where the diseases spread rapidly from young people to older people, and the number of victims also jumped in a short time. In these countries, the increase in infections was followed by an increase in the number of fatalities in about four to five weeks.
The experts indicated that 90-95 percent of COVID-19 patients in Hungary are not known and are not quarantined. This is why one of the most important ways to defend the population is to find those infected as soon as possible and strictly separate them. Experts have also suggested more strictness on the use of masks and the introduction of additional restrictive measures. At the moment, in addition to shops and public transport, wearing a mask is now mandatory in cinemas, theatres, health and social institutions, and public offices. Furthermore, clubs have to close by 11pm to curb the spread of the virus.
Gergely Röst, a mathematician and associate professor at the University of Szeged, and the head of the Epidemiological Modeling and Analysis Working Group, spoke to news portal Portfolio at the end of August. He said that “there is no tool that would be enough to curb the epidemic in itself. Staying socially distanced is important, but there is also an urgent need to improve hygiene, the use of masks in certain places and the efficiency of testing and contact tracking.” Although the number of tests has increased since the first wave, many experts have already pointed out that if the positivity rate among the tests performed is too high – according to the WHO, if it exceeds five percent – it means that the country is not performing enough tests. In Hungary, this indicator has not fallen below five percent since the beginning of September, and sometimes even exceeded ten percent.
Ferenc Jakab, head of the coronavirus action group and a professor at the University of Pécs, said recently at a scientific conference that “the numbers are terribly worrying.” Just like other experts, the virologist also lacks government action and the effectiveness of contact research. As he said, “while in the first wave of the epidemic, the government took appropriate action at the right time, this cannot be said now.”
He also reported that an algorithm had been developed that would be suitable not only for network analysis but also for the detection of superdistribution events, but did not have access to a sufficient number of samples to perform these studies and therefore could not make epidemiological predictions. Jakab added that the lack of capacity may also be due to the fact that although the incubation time for Sars-CoV-2 is within 1-14 days, contact research does not begin until after 48 hours.
The professor emphasized that contact research should begin as soon as possible. He stressed: “In an epidemic situation, it would not be possible for a person subject to quarantine to receive a release decision and a red poster warning of home quarantine on the same day.” Earlier this month, Jakab also warned that nobody should be fooled by the fact that the coronavirus epidemic right now is primarily spreading among young people because that doesn’t mean elderly people are safe, adding that „nothing positive can be predicted for the coming weeks.”
Last week, however, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán predicted the worst-case scenario of the coronavirus epidemic, citing experts. According to him, 200,000 people in Hungary could be infected at one time, which means that a maximum of 16,000 hospital beds and 800 ventilators may be needed at a time. He added, “It’s a matter of taste who believes how much from doctors and mathematicians,” which is why he preferred to double that number, but he said it shouldn’t be a problem either, and stressed that no one will be left without care.
Jakab also called those who “spread false doctrines” about the virus on social media, “white-cloaked charlatans.” Last week, Facebook banned some of Hungary’s most notable virus denier, virus skeptic, and anti-mask groups from its platform. The removal includes pharmacist-influencer Dr. Gődény’s group called ‘Adherents to Normal Life,’ and Scientology-linked physician Gábor Lenkei’s page. Although there are many who do not believe in the virus, Jakab emphasized that “There is an epidemic in Hungary, everyone should accept that.”
featured photo: illustration (Károly Árvai/MTI/kormany.hu)