Schools and kindergartens in Hungary could open on April 19th the latest, possibly on April 12, the prime minister’s chief of staff told a press conference on Thursday. Teachers will be inoculated before the reopening, he said.
Reopening is conditional on the number of those vaccinated reaching 2.5 million nationwide, Gergely Gulyás told a regular press conference, and called on teachers to register for receiving the vaccine.
Hungary’s health-care system is equipped and staffed to “work hard and treat everyone,” Gulyás said.
A European Union summit on handling the pandemic will start later on Friday as caseload is rising across Europe, he said.
Gulyás said the number of new infections per 1,000 citizens in Poland, the Czech Republic and Estonia was higher than in Hungary.
However, the “situation is bad in Hungary, too,” even though the health-care system is able to handle the growing burden, he said, adding that 10,441 beds and 1,678 ventilators were unoccuplied.
Gulyás added, however, that the only solution to eradicating the pandemic was vaccination. Only a very few people contract the disease after having received the vaccine, he added.
He noted that some 650,000 pensioners have not yet registered for the vaccine. The chief medical officer has written them a letter encouraging them to register, he added.
In elderly care homes, which were among the first institutions in which vaccinations were administered, the number of new infections has fallen to below 1 percent, Gulyas said.
Meanwhile, sluggish vaccine deliveries are making the progress of the inoculation campaign very uncertain, he said.
The situation is expected to improve in April thanks to “an unprecedented number of doses” arriving from China and Russia, he said. Faltering delivery form the European Union will hopefully also improve in the coming months, he added.
A decision on the schedule to reopen shops in Hungary is expected at the meeting of the operative board in charge of controlling the epidemic on Friday, he said.
Gulyás said the operative board was looking into a proposal of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on allowing one customer per 10 square meters in shops. He said such a regulation would be welcome, but “there is no way to tell how many people would queue up with Easter coming up.”
Hungary’s inoculation rate is second only to Malta’s in the EU, giving rise to the hope that herd immunity would set in early, Gulyás said.
Over 80 percent of coronavirus-related fatalities were among the elderly, Gulyás noted, adding that once they were inoculated, hopefully the current “grim numbers” would fall sharply.
Regarding reopening the economy, Gulyás said the government was working on a plan with “clear objectives” linked to the number of people inoculated, he said.