Fully 101 Covid patients, mostly elderly and suffering from an underlying illness, have died in the past 24 hours and coronavirus infections have risen by 3,945 to 122,863, koronavirus.gov.hu said on Wednesday.
Altogether 2,697 Covid patients have died since the presence of coronavirus in Hungary, while 28,808 have made a recovery. There are currently 91,358 active infections and 6,352 patients are in hospital,
473 on ventilators.
Fully 36,492 people are in official home quarantine, while the number tests stands at 1,259,454.
On Tuesday, lawmakers extended the government’s special powers by 90 days, allowing the government to suspend the application of some legislation, diverge from legal provisions and take other extraordinary measures by decree.
A major new rule is that face masks must be worn in public spaces in localities with more than 10,000 residents, though it is up to local mayors to decide which spaces the rule applies to.
Among other measures recently introduced: school classes from the eighth grade as well as universities are now holding lessons and lectures online.
Also, a curfew is in force between 8pm and 5am, and work carried out beyond the home must be justified.
With the exception of pharmacies and petrol stations, shops can open until 7pm.
Hairdressers, masseurs and personal trainers must observe general curfew rules.
Restaurants are limited to offering take-aways, while hotels are not allowed to cater to tourists, only guests arriving for business, economic or educational purposes.
Sports events must be held behind closed doors. Also, leisure facilities such as fitness gyms, indoor swimming pools, museums, libraries, cinemas, zoos and skating rinks must suspend their services.
Events, including cultural events and Christmas fairs, cannot be held under the special rules.
The government has asked religious communities make sure their rules conduct during ceremonies aligns with general coronavirus safety rules.
The authorities have ordered the suspension of total suspension of classroom teaching in 133 kindergartens and 24 schools.
Most infections have been registered in Budapest (30,345), followed by Pest County (16,107), and the counties of Győr-Moson-Sopron (8,939), Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén (7,135), Hajdú-Bihar (6,408) and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg (6,397). Tolna County has the least number of infections (1,502).
“We must hold out in the fight against coronavirus until a vaccine is delivered,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with public news channel M1, in which he also announced that face masks will be made mandatory in all public spaces from midnight on Tuesday.
Asked if the government was concerned about large crowds assembling in places like grocery stores because of the curfew, Orbán conceded that this was a concern but added that they trusted the public to observe social distancing rules.
“We all like to go to the library, the cinema, the theatre or matches but this is totally secondary right now,” Orbán said.
As regards the closure of secondary schools, Orbán said students would be switching to digital classes, “not being sent on vacation”.
Primary schools will be kept open for as long as possible, he said, pointing out that otherwise parents would have to stay home with their children and change their work schedules “if they could keep their jobs at all”.
Orbán asked parents to talk to their children about the virus and the responsibility they have in protecting those more vulnerable to it.
Concerning the regular testing of teachers and school, kindergarten and nursery staff, Orban said that if their antigen tests came back positive, it would be 90 percent reliable whereas a negative result was only 50-60 percent reliable.
“All we can do for now is make this uncertain but in some ways reliable rapid test available,” the prime minister said, adding that there would be enough testing kits to screen workers at social institutions.
Orbán said he was waiting to see the conclusions that could be drawn from Slovakia’s countrywide testing so that they could be incorporated into Hungary’s epidemic response measures.
Concerning the curfew and the latest round of restrictions, Orbán said the new measures would be in place for one month and he would be able to report back on their effectiveness in two weeks’ time.
“If the results are good, we may be free around Christmas time,” he said.
“So, right now hotels, restaurants and leisure centres will miss out on revenue for 30 days and the government will provide them with relief for that period of time,” Orbán said.
“Once we’re through this, we’ll shift our focus to rebooting the economy,” the prime minister said, adding that the government will enact new relief measures for every economic sector after the 30-day period is up.
“We must survive while also having jobs, money and saving lives and our health,” he said.
On the topic of the “special legal order” that entered into force last week, Orban said that although parliament was scheduled to debate “dozens of bills including constitutional amendment proposals” over the coming days, “in the West they’ll still say that we’ve become a dictatorship.”
As regards infection rates, Orbán said that
Hungary had 11,745 Covid-19 cases per million people compared with the EU average of 18,188.
In terms of fatalities, Hungary has 255 deaths per million people compared with the EU average of 437, he added.