Photo: Raimond Spekking/Wikimedia Commons

Chief medical officer orders nationwide ban on hospital visits

Cecilia Muller, Hungary's chief medical officer, has ordered a nationwide ban on visits to hospitals, the National Public Health Centre (NNK) said on Wednesday.

The ban, in effect from Tuesday, applies to both public and private institutions, NNK told MTI.

The restrictions do not apply in the cases of severely or terminally ill patients. Under the chief medical officer’s resolution, one parent is also allowed to stay at the hospital with their child and women due to give birth may also choose someone to accompany them.

Institutions found in violation of the ban face a fine of up to 5 million forints (EUR 14,000).

7,000 test requests made each day

Fully 7,000 requests for coronavirus tests are received each day, the chief medical officer said. Whereas there was a need to increase test delivery capacities, laboratories have sufficient means to evaluate the tests, Cecilia Muller said.

Now the second wave of the virus has arrived, the focus should be on protecting the elderly and the chronically ill, she said, noting her recent instructions to restrict access and admissions to social care homes.

Muller said that when a vaccine becomes available, it should first be given to frontline staff such as people working in health care and high-risk groups such as public employees on the front line and teachers.

She also asked teachers to work only if they were completely healthy, adding that there had been many cases of teachers turning up at school even though they knew they had symptoms of the virus.

Muller noted the accumulation of knowledge about the virus during the first wave, adding that the authorities were monitoring the dynamics of the epidemic. But public-health and individual hygiene rules should be followed, including physical distancing, mask use and regular hand disinfection, she added.

Muller said it was clear that the virus was being transmitted most by people in the 20-29 age group, so now there was a lower mortality rate.

Janos Szlavik, head of the National Institute of Hematology and Infectious Diseases, said many people still did not take the epidemic seriously, and this could prove a real danger.

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