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Healthcare Gears Up On Preparations as Coronavirus is Expected to Spread Wider

Ábrahám Vass 2020.03.17.

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters another stage in Hungary, going from isolated cases to clusters, the healthcare system gears up on preparations to fight its spread.

Scheduled and not urgent or vital surgeries will be postponed until the state of emergency is lifted, and operations will go ahead only if urgent in most of the hospitals in Hungary. While the Hungarian National Blood Transfusion Service (OVSZ) provides hospitals with blood products only for emergency surgeries.

Also, the Ministry for Human Capacities (EMMI) on Sunday called on healthcare institutions to separate staff who are more than 65 years old from patients and have them consult with colleagues over the phone, thus lowering the risk of infecting the age group most vulnerable to the disease.

The EMMI has also started to recruit volunteers. Minister Miklós Kásler calls up those between 18-49, who have a health degree, and “feel the need to be in the front line” to join. While the government has instructed EMMI to keep a record of Hungary’s full-time medical students so that if necessary, they could be called on to help manage the crisis. Also, healthcare workers can only leave the country with ministerial permission.

In addition, a mobile container hospital is being built in Kiskunhalas. The head of the emergency center, Tibor Lakatos, argued that the southern Hungarian town was “relatively close” to the capital, where most of the infections have been identified, adding that it was also the area where the right infrastructure conditions for such a facility were in place. It will share the premises of the prison complex but would be far away and separated from that, according to authorities.

The run-down block of the Kútvölgyi Hospital started operations as a quarantine facility too. The building that earlier was stripped of its stone pavement years ago, has recently been emptied to provide additional capacity to accommodate infected cases and those needing monitoring and isolation. According to Index, the building can accommodate dozens of people, mostly in double rooms equipped with a bathroom and free WiFi,while families and couples can also stay together.

The Buda Health Center (Budai Egészségközpont- BEK) a private spinal medicine and surgery facility owned partly by OTP Bank and Football Association MLSZ leader businessman Sándor Csányi, suspended its private services and non-acute patient care, and offered its inpatient facilities for the operational board. As a result, its Királyhágó street facility will be transformed into a disease control hospital in the coming days. They have also provided for the immediate procurement of twenty anaesthetic machines capable of long-term ventilation. 

Leftist daily Népszava also reported that in addition to the Budapest facilities, the chief medical officer Cecília Müller appointed four other disease control hospitals outside the capital: in Ajka, Kiskunhalas, Miskolc, and Szekszárd.

featured image by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI