Looking at September’s figures, it is clear that the coronavirus epidemic has never spread at such a devastating rate in Hungary. Even though previously we had not seen a strong change in the number of fatalities and hospital admissions, the past month we had to witness a sharp increase among those as well.
Due to the resurgence of the novel coronavirus in summer, the Orbán government announced on August 19th that they would yet again introduce stricter epidemiological measures while also implementing another set of restrictions starting from early September.
On that day, the number of active infections was 728 and 57 coronavirus patients were being treated in hospitals for Covid-19. It was already evident that the spread of the virus started to shift gears in Hungary.
Then, the Orbán government decided to close borders to foreigners starting on September 1st. Hungary thus saw the re-introduction of the border protection measures that were in force during the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic. As a result, foreign citizens were barred from entering Hungary, with only a few exceptions.
Compared to August 19th, the September 1st data already showed an increasingly worsening trend. The number of registered daily new infections was almost four times higher than a week and a half earlier (from 32 to 118). The number of active cases showed a similarly drastic increase from 728 to 1, 820. There were also twice as many people in need of hospital care (from 57 to 96).
Seven people died in those one and a half weeks due to the virus, bringing the number of fatalities to 616 by September 1st.
There was only one figure that had not yet risen significantly at that time: the number of patients on ventilators.
With borders closed, number of new cases still skyrocketing
Even though these statistics were bad enough compared to early August, we can safely say that the situation has gotten much worse: the numbers at the beginning of September were nothing compared to what we are now seeing. The resurgence of the epidemic in the past month has grown to an unprecedented extent.
In September, the number of registered coronavirus infections in Hungary has quadrupled from 6,257 to a stunning 27,309. The number of COVID patients treated in hospitals increased by almost 700 (from 96 to 757), which is close to a 600% increase. Also, seven times more patients are on ventilators than were at the beginning of September (then seven, now 52). Meanwhile, 165 people have died just in the past month.
Although the total number of tests seemingly shows a strong increase, the number of conducted daily tests is still far from the amount that the spread of the virus would require.
According to the official data, a total of 11,167 new samples were taken on Tuesday and 11,972 on Wednesday.
These numbers don’t come close to that of some neighboring countries like Austria but even fall short of the Hungarian record of 13,461 in March.
Meanwhile, the proportion of the total number of tests and positive tests hit a new record of 12.1% on Monday, which indicates that fewer tests are being performed, placing Hungary way above the 5% red line recommended by WHO.
The current data is particularly worrying because many fear that the Hungarian healthcare system won’t be able to cope with the increased number of patients in the long run, especially since there is already a shortage of specialist staff in some hospitals.
However, based on the same figures, the government and the chief medical officer said the spread of the pandemic has slowed down.
Featured photo by Zoltán Balogh/MTI