Hungary’s operative board coordinating efforts against the new coronavirus has recommended that hospitals and nursing homes introduce visiting bans as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country rose to seven over the weekend.
Tibor Lakatos, head of the board’s emergency centre, told a news conference on Sunday that Hungary has so far only identified individual cases of the virus and that the aim was to prevent an epidemic.
Of the seven people diagnosed with the new virus so far, four are Iranian citizens, one is British and two are Hungarian nationals, he said.
The first two to be infected were Iranian students, one of whom attends Budapest’s Semmelweis University and the other Gödöllő’s Szent Istvan University, he noted. The third patient is a British national who lives in Debrecen, often commuting to Milan for work. The fourth person to test positive for the virus was the Iranian girlfriend of one of the students. The fifth patient is a 70-year-old Hungarian man with underlying illnesses and the sixth a 22-year-old Iranian man who had attended a birthday party with the first Iranian student who tested positive.
The seventh person to have tested positive for the virus is the 59-year-old Hungarian wife of the British patient, Lakatos said.
According to the government website providing updates about the coronavirus outbreak, there are an additional 67 people in quarantine in Hungary and 362 people have been tested.
Chief medical officer Cecilia Müller told the same news conference that six of the seven patients were being looked after in Budapest and the British patient in Debrecen. Their condition is satisfactory, she said, adding that only the 70-year-old Hungarian patient was being treated in intensive care. There are altogether 54 people quarantined at Budapest’s St. Laszlo Hospital, Müller said, adding that the 11 secondary school students and their teachers who returned from Italy at the end of February have been released from hospital.
Tamás Schanda, a state secretary of the innovation and technology ministry, said the government has ordered nationwide consumer protection inspections with a view to catching any retailers looking to take advantage of consumers concerned about the virus.
He added that retailers were constantly restocking their supplies and there was “no reason to panic”. The government will also mandate lab tests on sanitisers, he added.
Schanda said the high share of students among those infected with the virus demonstrated the need for discipline in the matter from higher education institutions, students and professors. Universities and colleges are asked to inform their students both in Hungarian and English about health and safety procedures, he said.
State secretary for communications and international representation Tamas Menczer said there were seven Hungarian citizens quarantined in four foreign countries, including one who has tested positive for the virus in Japan. He warned Hungarians travelling abroad to consider the possibility of being placed in quarantine during their travels and advised that they should register for consular protection.
He said the Costa Fortuna cruise ship carrying about 2,000 people that was turned away by Malaysia had 4 Hungarian passengers and 8 Hungarian crew members on board. So far, there are no confirmed coronavirus cases on board, he noted.
The state secretary said Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has decided to close Hungary’s embassy in Vietnam to clients after an area nearby was quarantined.
Meanwhile, Lakatos said police were called to St. László Hospital on Saturday after two Iranian citizens refused to comply with the rules of quarantine.
So far, a total of 6,848 people have been screened at Hungary’s airports and 427 at public road border crossing points, he said.