Gergely Gulyas – Photo: MTI

Gulyas: Fourth wave to hit Hungary

The fourth wave of Covid-19 has started in Western Europe and will arrive in Hungary, too, Gergely Gulyas, the head of the Prime Minister's Office, told a press conference on Saturday.

He added, however, that this wave will be different from the previous three due to the high number of people with immunity and thus it will require a “different management”. He warned, however, that those not yet inoculated “are very likely to get ill”, while only 0.2 percent of the vaccinated are likely to get sick “and with much lighter symptoms”. He also added that all vaccine types were similarly efficient.

The government is not planning on another lockdown, he said, adding that “restrictions will not be needed in education or at work either”.

Gulyas warned that people above 65 were risking their life if they rejected the shot, and said that the government would personally contact all unvaccinated elderly to encourage them to get inoculated. Hungary has nearly 8 million doses of the vaccine to provide booster shots, and “anyone volunteering will get the third shot at any inoculation point”, he added. So far, 185,000 booster shots have been administered, while “the normal routine has been reintroduced in health care”, Gulyas said.

With 5.7 million Hungarians who have received at least the first shot, including 5.5 million fully inoculated, the country an await the fourth wave “in relative calm”.

On another subject, Gulyas said that Hungary’s 17.9 percent GDP growth in the last quarter was the third highest in Europe, and Hungary, after Sweden, Poland, and Romania, was the fourth country where the economy had reached its pre-pandemic levels. The latest figure suggests that the government’s pledge of tax refunds to families if the GDP reaches 5.5 percent “could come true”, he said.

Gulyas also announced a “higher than ever” pension premium, under which a retiree with a pension of 80,000 forints a month would get a premium of 20,000 forints if the growth is 4.5 percent or even 60,000 forints if the economic growth reaches 6.5 percent, adding that the growth figure was expected above 6 percent.

Concerning speculations on Hungary’s EU membership as reported in the press, Gulyas said “there is no point” in listening to those voices since “unfounded rumours of exit plans have been spread about many countries”. Being an EU member continues to provide benefits to Hungary, he added.

However, Gulyas called the EU’s sanctions against Russia “futile” and “especially harmful for the Hungarian economy’. He said that the Hungarian government supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity, adding that it was in Hungary’s interest that “there should not be another cold war”.

Gulyas welcomed the success of the August 20 celebrations, and insisted that the revenues of hotels and catering facilities had far outreached the cost of the festivities. He declined to comment on critical remarks concerning certain components of the programmes, but called it “amusing” that “gay pride participants call state celebrations kitsch”.


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