Government weighing return to earlier restrictions

The government is weighing the reintroduction of each of the restrictive measures it introduced during the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic in the spring, Katalin Novak, the minister for family affairs, said on Monday.

Hungary’s coronavirus situation is no easier than it was a month ago and is expected to get even more difficult, Novak told a meeting of the Council of the Elderly.

The government will decide on its next steps in handling the epidemic on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it is seeking the opinions of the elderly so that it can make the right calls, she added.

The aim is to ensure that the protective measures are as effective as possible and save as many lives as possible, the minister said.

Novak said the epidemic was posing serious challenges to the country’s health-care system, adding that this was why the government had tightened its Covid-related regulations.

Hungary’s handling of the first wave by international standards was successful, and the goal is to achieve the same outcome when it comes to the second wave, she said.

Just as in the spring, Hungary is again keeping its eye on Austria’s epidemic response, Novak said. Because of the similarities between the two countries, the government expects the epidemiological situation to be similar as well, she said, adding that this meant the situation was expected to get “more dramatic” in Hungary in the coming days.

Cecilia Muller, the chief medical officer, said Hungary was “going full steam ahead” to develop a coronavirus vaccine. People over the age of 65 make up one-fifth of the country’s population, she noted, adding that the aim was to make society more cooperative.

Concentrations of the virus in wastewater are rising all around the country, Muller said, pointing out that this meant the epidemic “is nowhere near peaking”.

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