Number of vaccinated nears 3.6 million

Hungary to fund health-care development from EU recovery fund

Hungary will spend the lion's share of the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund on developments in health care, Gergely Gulyas, the prime minister's chief of staff, told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio on Sunday.

Gulyas noted that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had talks with European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on Friday. The discussion touched on Hungary’s plans regarding the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility, among other topics, he said.

Von der Leyen “has a clear picture of the situation”, and knows that Hungary will use the funds in a transparent manner, he said.

Hungary will be the first to submit its plans for the use of the more than 2,500 billion forints (EUR 6.9bn) it is entitled to from the fund, Gulyas said. The plans will not include the 3,300 billion forint credit line included in the recovery plan, he added.

The government will use the funding to cover its “new health-care system eliminating gratuity payments”, and to raise the quality of health-care nationwide, he said.

Projects funded with a view to reduce carbon emissions will include the modernisation of track-based transport, the boosting of higher education and the transition to circular economy, he said.

Meanwhile, “Hungary would not want the recovery plan to be sacrificed to the [Budapest] mayor’s prime ministerial ambitions,” Gulyas said. The government is ready to engage with all constructive proposals if there is hope for a compromise with the municipality, he added. However, if the city council takes its objections to the international stage, that will be seen as a sign that they want to “voice their dissent for dissent’s sake” rather than reaching for compromise, Gulyas said.

On another topic, Orbán proposed at the talks that the EU should adopt strategies on handling its relations with Russia and China, Gulyas said.

Cooperation with Russia should be along clear principles, Orbán said, adding, at the same time, that economic cooperation is indispensable, “if for nothing else, for the dearth of diverse energy resources”, he said.

Regarding the ongoing rule of law procedure against Hungary, Gulyas said the “issue was barely touched on”.

“Hungary is a model democracy, we see the rule of law issue as important, but reject attempts to use it as a disguise for political attacks” against anti-migration countries standing up for traditional European values, he said.

On criticism of the vaccination certificates voiced by the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), Gulyas said Hungary’s constitution allows endowing certificate holders with special rights if the decision is not arbitrary. Hungary will link the use of certain services to vaccination certificates to protect the health of its citizens, as do a number of EU countries, he said.

205 fatalities, 2,328 new infections

Fully 205 patients, generally elderly with co-morbidities, died over the past 24 hours, while 2,328 new infections were registered, said on Sunday. So far 3,596,129 people have received a first jab, while 1,621,420 have been fully vaccinated.

The number of active infections stands at 260,686, while hospitals are treating 6,284 Covid patients, 790 of whom need respiratory assistance.

There are 37,497 people in official quarantine, while 5,280,600 tests have been officially carried out.

Since the first outbreak, 769,518 infections have been registered, while fatalities have risen to 26,625. Fully 482,207 people have made a recovery.

So far, most infections have been registered in Budapest and Pest County, followed by the counties of Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen, Gyor-Moson-Sopron and Hajdu-Bihar.

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