Photo: MTI

Orbán: Hungary cannot reopen economy yet

Inoculation of teachers to start on April 1

Teachers in kindergartens, and primary and secondary schools who have registered for vaccination against coronavirus will receive their first shots starting on April 1, said.

The portal advised those who had not yet registered, as well as other school staff, people employed in creches and in vocational training to register until March 29 so that they could be inoculated during the week after Easter.

According to the portal, out of 180,000 teachers in public education 102,000 had registered for the jab before March 24, while 20,000 have already been inoculated. Those not yet inoculated will receive text messages with the date and vaccination point where they could receive their shots, the portal said.

The portal also said that the vaccines necessary for the teacher inoculation programme could be ensured through reorganising stocks set aside for the vaccination of the elderly.

The programme is aimed at inoculating all teachers in public education, as well as 30,000 employees in secondary vocational training, and 13,000 people working in creches, the portal said.

Orbán: Hungary cannot reopen economy yet

Hungary cannot reopen its economy yet but chances are good that, ahead of most or all European Union countries, life could become free by the summer and “we will have a free summer”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio on Friday morning.

There are realistic chances that kindergartens, schools and secondary schools can reopen on April 19, Orbán said.

He said the opening times of shops are planned to be extended in order to avoid long queues and the curfew will be adjusted accordingly. The operative board in charge of epidemic response is currently discussing the details of the regulations, Orbán added.

He said that rather than predicting when the third wave would peak, the main question was when the numbers would start decreasing, but “nobody can tell that”. Some 275 people died on Thursday, 11,823 were in hospital, including 1,480 on ventilators, he added. Orbán said there were 10,343 free beds and 1,693 ventilators still available.

Some 500 volunteers have joined the protective efforts and 1,200 medical students are also at work, he said. So far, it has not been necessary to involve commuters who work mostly near Hungary’s western borders, he added.

Orbán said the most difficult weeks of the pandemic were under way and the third wave was caused by the British variant of the virus which is able to infect three times more people than previous variants. He asked young people to observe the regulations, not only in the interest of their parents and grandparents, but also because of their own safety.

Hungary would be able to administer more jabs but there is a shortage of vaccines, he said. The European Union summit which ended late on Thursday revealed that countries that have not ordered Eastern vaccines and rely on vaccines procured by Brussels only “are greatly behind us” in terms of their vaccination drive, he said.

Orbán said an increase in the availability of vaccines is expected in April and May.

It was a bad decision by EU prime ministers to allow Brussels to take over the procurement of vaccines from Western manufacturers, he said. Every country should have insisted on negotiating individually but they thought that sticking together would be more successful, he added. Brussels focused too much on the procurement price, which should have been of secondary importance as against protecting lives, Orbán said.

Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto warned the government in November that there could be problems with vaccine supplies and talks should be started with Russia and China, he said. Countries that start such talks now will have to stand in line, whereas Hungary has secured a good place in the front, he added.

Orbán said 400,000 doses of vaccines were currently available, some 1.8 million people have been already vaccinated and 594,000 have also received their second jab. Some 250,000 Russian vaccines are still in store waiting for approval to be released and 517,000 doses are kept in reserve to be used for a second shot, he added.

Talks are under way about amending regulations for shops and changing to a system where one person will be allowed per ten square metre in every shop, he said.

He added that he insists that reopening cannot be allowed unless all registered persons above 65 get vaccinated. Some 71 percent of this age group have received their jabs so far and good progress is being made, he said.

The prime minister said pregnant women were advised to be inoculated using Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccines and asked them to register for getting the jab.

Speaking about schools, Orbán said that all teachers and staff must be inoculated for a reopening, noting that 20,000 of those 102,000 who have registered so far already received their shots.

“The rest must also be vaccinated before schools are reopened, by April 10, so that schools, kindergartens and secondary schools could reopen April 19,” he said.

Hungary has vast vaccination capacity and GPs have been performing well in administering the jabs, Orbán said.

“Everybody is tired, frustrated and can hardly wait to become free, which is why we aim to give people exact points of reference. In a modern democracy everybody is free to say whatever they like; but it is the chief medical officer and the government that are continually communicating credible information,” he said.

“We are going to have a free summer,” Orbán said, adding, however, that certain events may only be attended with an immunity certificate.

Vaccination platform suffers cyberattack

A coordinated cyberattack has been carried out against the recently launched platform where residents can check the status of their registration for vaccination, an official of the central coronavirus board told a press conference on Friday.

Deputy board chief Robert Kiss said that the new site had suffered over 600,000 individual attacks since its launch on Thursday, adding that the attacks caused disruptions in accessing the site.

The national health insurance fund, the owner of the site, has filed a criminal complaint concerning the attacks.

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