So far there are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Hungary, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Thursday.
Seven new samples were tested during the night but none of them came back as positive for the COVID-19 virus, Gergely Gulyás told a regular press briefing.
He said there are currently 18 people in quarantine in Budapest’s St. László Hospital, all of whom are symptom-free. Barring any changes in their condition, they will be discharged in two weeks’ time, Gulyás added. He said that if necessary, more hospitals will start receiving patients suspected of having contracted the virus.
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Concerning suspected coronavirus cases in Hungary, he said several people have been taken to an infectology centre from a hospital in Veszprém, in western Hungary. One patient, who earlier visited the United States and Ulm, complained of a headache and a sore throat, while another has recently returned from China.
In Pécs, a woman who just came back from the Venice Carnival has been tested for the virus, he said.
One woman also recently checked in to a hospital in Esztergom, in northern Hungary, Gulyás said, adding that although it was unlikely from her symptoms that she had contracted the virus, she has been sent to Balassagyarmat for tests.
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The operative board tasked with coordinating preventive measures is constantly monitoring the situation, he said, adding that Interior Minister Sándor Pintér will meet representatives of the six parliamentary parties today. The National Public Health Centre (NNK) is also keeping an eye on the situation, and the foreign ministry’s consular service is prepared to provide information and assistance to anyone in need, Gulyás added.
He said some 1.2 million face masks are available to be shipped out to pharmacies across the country, adding that 25,000 face masks are being produced each day. Though there is no shortage of the masks, they may still be sold out in some places due to the recent spike in their purchases, Gulyás said. The operative board will make sure that pharmacies receive their supply of masks as quickly as possible, he added.
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He said the government is providing equipment necessary for protection against the virus, adding, at the same time, that he saw no need for GPs to wear protective suits.
Asked about the situation of Bitskey Aladár swimming pool in Eger, in northern Hungary, which the local (opposition Jobbik) mayor shut down for an indefinite period as a precautionary measure against the virus, the PM’s Office chief said “now’s not the time for political disputes”.
Gulyás said that for the time being it was impossible to comment definitively about the organisation or cancellation of any events scheduled to be held in Hungary because it was impossible to track the virus’s trajectory with any degree of certainty.
Meanwhile, Gulyás criticised the opposition parties for “trying to use the coronavirus for political gain”.
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Asked about the possibility of food shortages, Gulyás said the government was aware of related press reports but these were “excessive scare-mongering”.
If the virus takes a toll on Hungary’s tourism industry, the government is prepared to discuss possible interventions with the sector’s representatives, he said.
Government spokeswoman Alexandra Szentkirályi advised citizens against traveling to infected areas. They should register for consular protection if their travel is unavoidable, she said, adding that anyone returning from an infected area should self-isolate for a period of two weeks.
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He said the consular service is in contact with the Hungarian crew member of the Diamond Princess cruise ship who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, adding that the patient’s second test result has not yet come back.
Concerning the Hungarian citizens in China, he said 174 people in the country have registered for consular protection, 20 of whom are in the five most infected provinces. As for Italy, Gulyás said determining the number of Hungarians there was almost impossible, but they, too, have been asked to register.
Featured photo illustration by Tamás Sóki/MTI