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Coronavirus – Opposition MEP blasts pandemic data management

Opposition MEP Istvan Ujhelyi has criticised the handling of coronavirus-related data by Hungarian authorities during the pandemic, citing a report by data protection authority NAIH.

Addressing an online press conference on Thursday, Ujhelyi, a member of the European Parliament’s public health committee, noted that he had turned to NAIH almost a year ago after repeated refusals by government institutions to release data concerning coronavirus.

Citing a report released by NAIH, Ujhelyi said Hungarian authorities tasked with managing the pandemic had been unprepared for the amount of data they had to handle.

Ujhelyi said the National Centre for Public Health (NNK) had admitted that it had been difficult having the same staff members conducting contact tracing and validating data. He said NNK had just nine specialists capable of handling the infectious disease reporting system. Also, doctors and other health-care workers had to enter data into the system manually, which led to errors, he added.

Coronavirus was overreported as a cause of death by more than 30 percent, the MEP said. It was even cited, for example, in the case of a patient who had contracted the virus but committed suicide, he added.

“The government was prepared for everything during the pandemic except the pandemic itself,” Ujhelyi said. He insisted that Cecilia Muller had been “unfit” to carry out her duties as chief medical officer, and called on her to apologise for the way the data had been handled.

In response, ruling Fidesz insisted Ujhelyi was “manufacturing fake news to deflect attention from himself”, and called on him to appraise the public on what he knows about the corruption scandal plaguing Brussels or “the foreign financing of the dollar left”.

Ujhelyi first insisted he did not know the politicians involved in the corruption scandal, then “it turned out he had met Eva Kaili at several events”.

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