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Coronavirus in October: Virus Strikes Again in Hungary

Péter Cseresnyés 2021.11.02.

The fourth wave of the coronavirus epidemic in Hungary intensified in the second half of October when daily figures began to rise sharply. In ten days, the daily number of new infections rose to over 4,000, the number of people hospitalized to over 2,000 and the number of people on ventilators to over 200. Although several important indicators are slightly better than at the same time last year, the trends remain worrying. The severity of the situation is perhaps best evidenced by the government’s unexpected announcement of a number of restrictive measures at the very end of October- a sharp shift from its previous position.

Worsening figures

Looking at October’s daily figures of the coronavirus epidemic, it is evident that the fourth wave is gaining momentum in Hungary. While the number of new daily infections stood at 679 on the 1st of October; by the end of the month, this figure climbed to over four thousand (4,041). Meanwhile, the moving average of newly registered infections- which gives a more accurate picture of the rate at which infections are spreading- stood at 472 at the beginning of last month; by the end of it, however, this figure showed a sixfold increase (2,799).

In line with this, the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients has also risen significantly. At the beginning of last month, 533 people required hospital care, 84 of whom needed respiratory assistance. At the end of October, 2,130 Covid patients were treated in hospitals, 230 of them on ventilators.

Coronavirus: Number of Hospitalized Covid Patients Surpasses 2,000
Coronavirus: Number of Hospitalized Covid Patients Surpasses 2,000

Thirty-seven patients died of Covid over the past 24 hours, while 4,041 new coronavirus infections were registered in Hungary.Continue reading

Among the statistics, it is also important to highlight the number of daily fatalities, which like the other indicators, has also worsened significantly in recent weeks. The seven-day rolling average of covid-related deaths went from seven to 31 in the past month, which means by now, on average, more than 30 covid-infected people are dying every day in Hungary.

In addition, although experts have already criticized Hungary’s low number of tests conducted during previous waves – which they say would be essential to get a good picture of the rate of the spread of the virus, and which is also an important tool to quarantine the infected and slow down the sprerad of the virus – the problem seems to remain unresolved. In the past month, the proportion of positive tests has exceeded not only the 5% mark recommended by WHO, but also the 12% upper limit set by the organization, as it is hovering over 15% at the moment.

Hospital admissions, fatalities lower than a year ago

If we compare the current figures with those recorded in October last year during the second wave, official figures show that the number of infected people is slightly higher than a year ago. At the very end of the same period last year, the seven-day average number of people who caught the virus was around 2,273, compared to 2,799 currently.

Somewhat reassuringly, the trend in hospital admissions and daily deaths is reversed, with slightly fewer people falling victim to the virus than at the same time last year.

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On October 29, 2020, 3,197 people were hospitalized and 56 people lost their lives, while on the same day this year 2,130 people were treated in hospitals and 37 people passed away.

Experts say the differences are mainly due to the fact that the delta variant is much more contagious than the second-wave variant, but thanks to vaccines, far fewer people are being hospitalized or dying from the disease.

The return of restrictions

Despite this, the epidemic situation is clearly escalating, a clear sign of which is that the Orbán government, abandoning its previous position, unexpectedly announced significant restrictions on October 28.

For months now, renowned Hungarian experts, virologists, and immunologists have been calling on the government to make masks compulsory in order to curb the fourth wave as much as possible. Earlier, PM Orbán stated repeatedly that his government was not planning restrictions, since according to him, they are not effective against covid and only vaccination matters.

As of November 1st, the mask mandate on Hungary’s public transport has been reinstated,  companies are allowed to require their employees to be vaccinated, and a ban on visits to health institutions has also been imposed.

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Whether the current measures have been introduced in time will only become clear in the next couple of weeks. However, based on the current figures and the most recent wastewater data, it is certain that the number of coronavirus cases in Hungary will continue to rise sharply for a  considerable amount of time.

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Featured photo illustration by Zoltán Balogh/MTI