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Recent Rise of Covid-19 Cases in Europe as Warning to Seemingly Unaffected Hungary

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.06.30.

Although the situation regarding the coronavirus epidemic in Europe has improved significantly in recent months, several countries have reported a worrisome rise in the number of new cases. While Hungary does not appear to be affected as of yet, data from neighboring countries suggest caution.

The coronavirus epidemic has not yet disappeared and it continues to accelerate: the number of fatalities exceeded half a million by Sunday night, with more than 10 million confirmed cases globally. So far, over 2.5 million cases have been reported in Europe alone.

While measures against Covid-19 are being gradually lifted in European countries one after the other, unfortunately, we can also see an increase in the number of weekly cases for the first time in months, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns.

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Although the epicenter of the pandemic may have moved from Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, notes the continent is still seeing more than 20,000 cases and 700 deaths per day.

“Last week, Europe saw an increase in weekly cases for the first time in months,” Kluge said, adding that “For weeks I have spoken about the risk of resurgence as countries adjust measures. In several countries across Europe, this risk has now become a reality.”

According to the director, there are 30 countries, including Ukraine, with an increase in new cumulative cases over the past two weeks. He warns that if this resurgence is left unchecked, health systems could be “pushed to the brink” once again in Europe.

Over the past weeks, there have been large clusters of cases throughout Western Europe. Authorities extended a lockdown in and around the German city of Gütersloh introduced on last Tuesday, after an outbreak at a nearby meat processing plant. Similar cases have also been reported recently in the UK and France.

But a worrisome tendency can be witnessed in the CEE region including some of Hungary’s neighboring countries as well.

Unsettling data in the CEE region

The number of daily coronavirus infections has considerably increased in the Czech Republic, with 305 new Covid-19 cases registered on Sunday. This is a significant surge considering on Friday this number was 168, which means it almost doubled in two days. The last time the number of newly infected people moved so high was in early April.

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However, according to the Ministry of Health, the data does not indicate the beginning of a second wave of Covid-19, but is primarily due to extensive testing in some of the local clusters.

In Romania, the daily registered cases have only exceeded 400 eight times since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, and only twice did the daily rate exceed 460, as of last Thursday.

But the most noticeable growth has occurred perhaps in Croatia. There, 10 active cases were registered on June 17th, by June 29th this increased to 463. Due to the explosive spread, the government has tightened its entry rules, and Slovenia is considering removing the country from its list of safe countries.

What about Hungary?

In Hungary, the gradual easing of previously imposed measures to curb the coronavirus began in May. Two weeks ago, the government lifted the state-of-emergency; as a result, most of the restrictions were lifted in the country.

Interestingly, as of now, no official data indicates any kind of increase of the virus. In fact, Hungary seems to be one of the least affected countries in Europe. The number of active cases, for example, has been steadily declining since early May.

The President of the Hungarian Medical Chamber, Gyula Kincses, recently shared a graph on Facebook which shows the daily average of new cases of Covid-19 infection per million capita in European countries. According to this, Hungary has less than half new infections per day (0.4), while the same average is 2.2 in Croatia, and 3.8 in Austria.

Of course, the current promising data does not mean that the number of infected people will not start to increase in Hungary in the near future just as it happened in the neighboring countries. This is why it is important to still comply with the few rules remaining in effect including social distancing and the use of face masks.

Featured photo by Péter Komka/MTI 

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