The third wave of the coronavirus is plateauing in Hungary, according to the chief medical officer. Despite the declining number of new daily cases, however, other relevant figures remain high as a warning sign that we are far from the pandemic being over.
Cecília Müller, Hungary’s chief medical officer, said on Tuesday that based on the analysis of the current epidemic figures, the third wave of the coronavirus is plateauing in Hungary.
There are indicators already showing a decline, but we cannot yet talk about a downward trend, Müller emphasized.
It is not just Cecília Müller who believes that Hungary might be around the peak of the third wave. Biostatistician, Tamás Ferenci, also shared the same opinion in an interview with Portfolio.
According to Ferenci’s calculations, the British variant of the coronavirus spread at the highest rate at the end of February, until the lockdown measures introduced in March broke its pace. At that time, the reproduction number (R) which indicates on average the number of people that one infected person will pass on a virus to, was 1.3.
The R-value is currently around 0.7-0.8 and since the proportion of positive tests has been constant for days, the biostatistician believes it is unlikely that a low testing rate would be the reason for the favorable number.
Of course, this does not mean that we have gotten over the problem, the pace of declining numbers will also be extremely important due to the terribly overloaded health care system,” he emphasized.
If we look at past weeks’ relevant figures, we can observe what the chief medical officer was suggesting.
Although the number of daily new cases has been quite hectic in recent days, based on its 7-day rolling average, it seems that Hungary has indeed hit a plateau recently. Following a record-high 11,265 on March 26th, the number of daily new infections has since started declining.
While this figure alone may be a cause for hope, there are several other indicators warning everyone to remain careful.
For instance, the number of active cases remains at its peak, while hospital numbers have also barely decreased.
The number of hospitalized patients was at an all-time high on March 30th with 12,553 people. This number right now is at 10,818.
Most patients were on ventilators also at the end of March (1,529), while there are currently 1,209 people in need of respiratory assistance.
Unfortunately, the number of deaths does not show a declining trend either; based on the seven-day rolling average, it has even worsened in recent days.
It is of course important to highlight that hospital numbers and fatalities usually follow the trend set by the number of new and active infections only weeks later, therefore we could easily see some reassuring figures by May.
At the same time, it is also important to remember that Hungary started reopening last Wednesday, stores have already opened, and primary schools and kindergartens opening next week.
All of these easing measures could have the reverse effect, so it is still imperative for everyone to remain cautious.
Featured photo illustration by Attila Balázs/MTI