Demand for coronavirus tests has increased to such an extent over the past 24 hours that on Tuesday, Cecília Müller, the National Chief Medical Officer, instructed to increase the capacity for administering coronavirus tests. Recently, due to the increased number of cases, it has already taken 4-5 days for the coronavirus tests to be performed and evaluated instead of 24 hours and there were also delays with the official quarantine instructions.
As the number of people infected with the coronavirus has increased in recent days in Hungary, so has the number of samples taken. According to business daily Világgazdaság, paramedics no longer have the capacity to take the more than nine thousand daily samples and follow the official protocol, which states that a sample should be taken from a person suspected of a coronavirus within 24 hours of receiving the notification from the GP. According to the news portal, there were cases when paramedics arrived from the countryside, even a hundred kilometers for a Budapest sample and to laboratories where samples are evaluated are also loaded.
Several news outlets reported on the issue and the Democratic Coalition (DK) also mentioned it at an online press conference. DK spokesman Balázs Barkóczi said that the party thinks it is irresponsible and dangerous that state coronavirus tests are only evaluated in four days, adding that testing of contacts is also reported to be on a four-day lag. Because of this, it is hard to find the infected people and their contacts in a timely manner, and the virus is spreading more easily. Barkóczi also reiterated their previous call to increase state testing capacity and make the test free of charge for all Hungarian citizens with social security.
Independent Válasz Online reported that the ordering of obligatory quarantine for positive and suspicious cases is also grossly delayed. While the testing is delayed by four-five days, there is an even greater delay with ordering people into official quarantine, with several cases known where a quarantine had not been ordered until six days after the positive test result and their contacts had not yet been notified, let alone tested.
Many also drew attention to the fact that although in international comparison, still measurably fewer tests are carried out in Hungary than in the neighboring countries or in Western Europe, ambulance services and laboratories are still finding it hard to meet the expected deadlines. According to the protocol in Hungary, suspicious cases only go into a 14-day official quarantine and only those people are tested who show severe symptoms, such as high temperature, coughing, and shortness of breath and who also insist on the testing.
Many believe that this capacity could be further increased, but for that to happen the protocol would also need to be changed. However, on Tuesday, Cecília Müller, the National Chief Medical Officer instructed authorities to increase the testing capacity to be able to test suspicious cases and evaluate them in time (within 24 hours from the patient first contacting their GP) in view of the growing number of positive and active cases in recent weeks and with the increasing demand for coronavirus tests. According to Müller’s instructions, all publicly funded, licensed healthcare providers’ spare vehicles are now designated as ambulances and they are also involved in the transport of samples for PCR tests.
featured photo: György Varga/MTI