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“The numbers are rising steeply, the epidemic is raging,” the Hungarian Medical Chamber writes in a statement. The Chamber is calling for restrictions, saying that if we don’t work together to slow the increase in the number of patients and the overcrowding of hospitals, it will be a very sad Christmas for many families.

The released statement is based on official COVID numbers. The chamber says that “178 deaths a day, that’s a thousand a week – a village – if their numbers don’t rise further. But it will. 565 ventilated patients mean at least one and a half, more like twice as many patients, in serious condition who would already need intensive care – if there was room for them.”

“Even though the Emergency Departments are working in full swing, they are still drowning in patients, more and more departments are being converted and opened for COVID care, with ophthalmologists, urologists, surgeons, and nurses from these departments being transferred here,” according to the statement.

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Among the problems, they mention that “…in Hungary, on-call fees have not yet been regulated, so overworked staff are fighting for the lives entrusted to them at night, on weekends, and holidays for less than their normal hourly rate.” However, they add that they are aware that “…nowhere can you sustain a health service with spare capacity to cope with such a huge workload. But it is possible to work according to a known timetable, linked to indicators, and not to ever-changing rules, with better valued and paid overtime work.” They also think that “the increase in the salaries of professional staff has fallen far short of both the social value of the work done and that of doctors…”

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The Chamber makes it clear that they are well aware that it is their job to help, but according to them, “there is something seriously dissonant about someone working 12 to 24 hours a day, away from home, in questionable conditions, tensing up to care for patients, while others go out in crowds, unrestricted, to have fun and relax – potentially to get infected and contaminated.”

In relation to healthcare, they ask for the following:

  • regulate the remuneration of on-call time
  • raise the salaries of professional staff substantially
  • start tackling the problems of the healthcare sector.
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Finally, they say ask for the following restrictions:

  • make masks compulsory in all enclosed public spaces (shopping centers, shops, cinemas, theaters, etc.)
  • stop mass events, not just professional medical congresses (The Minister of Human Resources, Miklós Kásler, put a ban on in-person medical congress, despite there being no such restriction in effect regarding mass events)
  • make access to non-essential areas (nightclubs, restaurants, theaters, cinemas) conditional on a full immunity certificate (sufficient number of vaccinations within six months) or a recent negative PCR test
  • promote teleworking, home-office
  • encouraging individual distancing, hand washing.

The Hungarian Medical Chamber says they “know that in the long term, vaccination is the most important thing. But we also know that the protection of vaccination comes weeks later, and the epidemic is raging now. Until then, the above means of protection must remain.”

The full statement can be read here.

Featured image via Zoltán Balogh/MTI