Béla Merkely, the rector of Semmelweis University, talked to András Sváby about the current virus situation in Hungary, on an episode of Heti Napló. He estimates the actual number of infected people actually to be roughly twenty times more than the confirmed cases.
Merkely stated that no single measure or action would be enough to defeat the virus, but he would make the wearing of masks mandatory, for example, as the reproduction rate would likely decrease, if everyone were to wear them properly, reported ATV. The reproduction rate exceeded two last week, meaning that one infected person passes the virus to at least two people.
He also emphasised that the virus did not circulate in the spring, during the first wave, however, after bringing it in from other countries, the circulation of the infection grew to at least ten times higher than in the spring.
The actual number of infections could roughly be 20 times the number of confirmed cases, which could mean around 100,000 people in Hungary.
Closing the borders is not enough to stop the virus, though Merkely would have shut them earlier, despite Hungarians apparently not wanting it.
What also changed since the first wave, is that now mainly 20-30-year-olds get the virus. They could, of course, close the circle after a while, so they do not pass the disease to the elderly, but that takes time and is not that easy.
There could be more deaths in the first wave overall, but it is too early to tell yet. According to the expert’s calculations, the numbers could explode in 3-4 weeks, based on foreign examples, but this process can be slowed down if attention is paid to the elderly.
The lowest number of infections was in July, according to Merkely, at that time, not many of his acquaintances were infected, but now more and more people he knows are testing positive. Merkely warns about the importance of wearing a mask, properly washing hands and keeping a safe distance.
He also pointed out that not only those showing symptoms should be tested, as COVID-19 can easily and mostly be passed on in the days after infection when there are no symptoms yet. According to him, schools must be kept stable and social and health care institutions protected.