Hungary’s government will favour fiscal stimulus over austerity measures in managing the impact of the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in parliament on Monday.
“We need measures that help keep people in work,” the prime minister said in response to remarks from the opposition parties.
Orbán said employers and employees would need to devote enormous efforts to saving jobs in the coming period. “Seeing a spike in unemployment would not be an extraordinary situation for them,” he said, noting that the unemployment rate was currently at 3 percent.
He also said
the country’s medical students were barred from leaving the country and asked to remain on standby, as they, too, are considered part of the health-care workforce.
On the subject or protective equipment, Orbán said they would primarily be supplied to health-care workers, arguing that 4 percent of nurses in China and 10 percent in Italy had been infected with the virus.
As regards the situation around schools, he said the reason they had not been closed was to ensure that students whose parents could not stay home with them had a place to go.
Concerning the extent of testing for coronavirus, the prime minister said it was “physically impossible” to screen people for the virus before a certain point, arguing that the test results are only 50-70 percent accurate before the body’s antibody response kicks in.
“We’re looking at hard times ahead, much harder than what we’ve had up till now,” Orbán said.
“We don’t have much knowledge [about what’s to come] but what we do have is rather alarming,” he said, pointing out that in Austria, the number of coronavirus cases went from 30 to 500 in a matter of eight days.