More and more schools and kindergartens are reporting that they have to close classes or groups or “hybridize” them because of the high number of infections.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute. Translated by Júlia Tar.
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is currently already responsible for 87 percent of infections in Hungary, Hungary’s chief medical officer announced. Those most at risk of falling seriously ill with the virus are still the unvaccinated, Cecília Müller said. Meanwhile, the epidemic is spreading rapidly in Budapest kindergartens, reports educational portal Eduline. According to the website, at the beginning of the week, 18 groups with a total of 315 children were already under quarantine in the capital’s 3rd district alone. Elsewhere, one out of five kindergarten classes had to be sent home because of coronavirus infection. The portal also reports on kindergartens in the capital that had to be completely closed.
The virus is spreading nationwide at an incredible speed
The virus is spreading not only in Budapest and Pest County. The coronavirus has also appeared in Hódmezővásárhely, among other places, where two groups in a single kindergarten have been quarantined. More and more family members are reporting being sick, possibly even with confirmed infection, Ilona Borsiné Csontos, director of the joint facility, told the local newspaper.
Zoltán Balaicz, mayor of Zalaegerszeg, shared the city’s latest epidemiological figures on Facebook earlier this week: seven out of eight kindergartens are affected by epidemiological measures.
The number of infected children is increasing rapidly, not only in kindergartens but also in schools.
A few days ago, the rules for quarantine in schools were changed. Previously, whole classes in elementary schools with children under 12 were quarantined because of one infected person. But now different rules already apply to vaccinated and unvaccinated students.
In-person classes may continue in the class of the sick student. Those who have already been vaccinated may continue to attend school (even if they have had contact) and will be quarantined only if they test positive for coronavirus despite vaccination. Only unvaccinated students will be quarantined as contacts for five days.
The rules for quarantine are interpreted quite differently by individual schools; for example, there were students who were immediately sent home from school because of a single positive classmate, while in another school an unvaccinated child can continue to attend school as a contact.
Entrance exams over the weekend
“If you can, keep your child at home in the days leading up to the entrance exam to reduce the risk of infection,” the Citizens’ Platform for Public Education advised parents of students preparing for secondary school entrance exams a few days ago. And, as written above, for good reason: Saturday’s central written exam, which nearly 73,000 elementary school students are expected to take, comes at a particularly bad time from an epidemiological perspective.
Chief medical officer: Children over 12 should get their booster shot
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller called on parents to have their children who have received their second vaccination dose more than four months ago, also vaccinated with a booster. Müller pointed out that Hungarians can still get vaccinated on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays without registration.
The peak of the 5th wave not expected before next month
The fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic is not expected to peak until next month, Endre Kacskovics, head of the Department of Immunology at the University of ELTE told InfoRadio.
According to the professor,
One should avoid enclosed spaces such as Jacuzzis, water parks, or saunas that provide a space for direct transmission of the infection.”
But we also see that the third vaccine is necessary in preventing people from getting sick with the virus, and since many Hungarians have already received the third vaccine since August, I would strongly recommend older people, those immunocompromised, and healthcare workers to get the fourth vaccine,” Kaskovics said.
The predominant Omicron variant in Hungary shows the following symptoms:
- Back pain
- Sore throat
- Huskiness of the voice
- Slight cough
- Muscle pain
“If you have any of these symptoms, you should do a rapid test,” recommends infectologist János Szlávik. The specialist also pointed out that PCR tests are more accurate, but can remain positive for a long time after recovery. However, rapid tests are positive even four to five days after the onset of symptoms.
The specialist pointed out that “Omicron is not a friend of ours either,” as it can cause severe illness in the elderly, those immunocompromised, cancer patients, or people with lung disease. An unvaccinated person may even need ventilator treatment,” he added.
The expert also said he does not believe that Omicron will bring an end to the epidemic, but that after the epidemic waves peak, almost no one can be expected to need hospitalization, except for the elderly or the immunocompromised.
Featured image via Balázs Mohai/MTI