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Coronavirus: November Far and Away the Worst Month for Hungary So Far

Balázs Frei 2020.12.02.

November was by far the worst month for Hungary in terms of the coronavirus. A rapid rise in cases, deaths, and positive tests, along with labor deficiencies made for a somber end to autumn 2020.

In November, Hungary had by far its worst month of coronavirus infections yet. At the end of October, there were around 55,000 active cases in the country. By the end of November, that number was over 148,000. There were well more than 4,000 daily confirmed infections on average throughout the month.

Record High Number of Daily Covid Deaths Reported Again in Hungary
Record High Number of Daily Covid Deaths Reported Again in Hungary

Fully 165 Covid patients, generally elderly and suffering from an underlying illness, have died over the past 24 hours, while 4,136 more virus cases have been officially registered, koronavirus.gov.hu said on Wednesday. The total number of cases since the first outbreak in the country has risen to 225,209, while the death toll now stands at […]Continue reading

This may, at first, seem like it is largely a result of increased testing, however, on average, the ratio of positive tests was higher in November than ever before. Hungary has been consistently seeing positive test ratios above WHO’s suggested 5% since September 4th, and above WHO’s absolute upper limit of 12% since October 16th. On Monday, November 30th, 64% of all coronavirus tests were positive.

Despite the increase in cases, the number of people in hospitals for coronavirus has remained relatively stable since the middle of November, rising very slightly from 7,500 to around 7,800. The number of people on respirators has also shown dramatically slower growth from the middle of the month.

These seem to suggest that hospitals have reached their limit in terms of how many patients they can care for. The government has emphasized that there is still treatment capacity available, however, though that might be true for hospital beds and ventilators, it does not appear so for staff. Currently, a lack of suitable labor is the biggest bottleneck in the treatment of coronavirus in Hungary.

First Round of Targeted Mass Testing: Thousands of Essential Workers Test Positive
First Round of Targeted Mass Testing: Thousands of Essential Workers Test Positive

The government presented the results of the first round of mass testing at the daily press conference of the operative board. Although the board expected a higher participation rate as the participation was voluntary, but still a total of 181,506 people tested themselves last week. Out of this number, 2.44 percent, a total of 4,436 […]Continue reading

The number of deaths has increased sharply over the last week, to above 150. This appears to be due to the spike in case numbers before the tightened regulations were introduced, two weeks or so prior. Part of it may also be because of increased strain on the healthcare system.

International Perspective

Case numbers doubled in Hungary over 23 days up to today. There were only 8 countries where this happened faster recently.

In terms of cases relative to population, Hungary appears to be middle of the pack, doing better than most European countries or the U.S. However, this is very likely due to the exceedingly low number of tests; Hungary has had one of the lowest ratio of tests to positive cases over the past week among comparable developing or developed nations, 3.3. Only Poland and Croatia appear to be doing worse regionally.

A more representative measure in this regard would be deaths per million inhabitants, where Hungary is doing worse than nearly all comparable nations on a seven-day rolling basis. The country had the sixth most deaths per million people in the world on average over the past week, 13.78. It must be noted that there may be differences between countries depending on how deaths are classified and counted.

Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI