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End of Coronavirus ‘Round One’? Lifted Restrictions So Far Not Resulting in High Number of New Cases

Fanni Kaszás 2020.05.25.

After two months of stay-at-home orders and closures, with easing restrictions around the country and in the capital as well, life has begun to return to normal in Hungary. Three weeks ago, National Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller said that it would take two weeks to see the consequences of the mitigation, so Hungary Today decided to taker a closer look at the official numbers to draw a conclusion.

While the countryside already started to re-open three weeks ago, Budapest could finally also take a breath and at least partially re-open last Monday. This meant that parks, terraces, and gardens were flooded, and people as well as restaurants are optimistic about the coming months. As a consequence, all shops and service providers are allowed to open in the whole country, and restaurants, cafes and bars, outdoor areas, and terraces can be opened as well. This also applies to outdoor swimming pools, museums, and the zoo. Swimming pools, beaches, and spas will also open this weekend, which means that after the strict restrictions, people are meeting again and are staying in close proximity to each other.

Budapest Feels Relief After Restrictions are Lifted on Monday

However, easing restrictions does not mean that the coronavirus epidemic is over. The virus is still spreading and it is of utmost importance to continue to follow general precautions, such as keeping a minimum of 1.5 meters distance from each other and wearing face masks or scarves to cover the face.

After the first lifting of restrictions in the countryside, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller said that it would take at least two weeks to see the consequences. Last week, she said that it seems from the official data, that Hungary had entered the downward phase of the coronavirus epidemic, while the numbers were indicating a decline in active cases with “some modest swings.”

Coronavirus: Is it Too Early to Lift Restrictions?

The coronavirus epidemic was expected to peak on May 3rd in Hungary, a day before the introduction of the lifting of the restrictions. Since then, there were consecutive days when there were far fewer new confirmed patients than recovered patients, while data shows that the number of new registered cases has not increased that much since the peak. Yesterday, there were 28 new confirmed cases, while today only 15. There are swings in the numbers, but overall, they stayed between 10-30 patients per day on average.

The number of new infections per day is declining, the number of deaths is mostly stagnant, while the number of recovered patients is continuously rising. Today, the official government website koronavirus.gov.hu reported that a total of 1,711 hospitalized patients have recovered, while the number of active cases has decreased to 1,564. The number of recoveries surpassing those of the active cases is considered a milestone in the fight against the virus.

Overall, it seems that the peak of the virus was indeed at the beginning of May, and although the strict restrictions were lifted nationwide, the numbers are stagnating and even declining. While in Budapest it is too early to evaluate the current state of the coronavirus epidemic, but in the countryside, the re-opening did not bring much more new infections. However, this also required citizens to follow precautionary measures and cooperate in the fight against the coronavirus in the last two months and after the restrictions were lifted, which remains extremely important in the second phase of the fight as well.

featured photo: Márton Mónus/MTI