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Nice and Vienna attacks were "warning shots to remind us of the dangers other than the coronavirus pandemic that threaten Europeans", PM says

Orbán: Tough situation, outlook positive

The situation regarding the coronavirus epidemic is severely difficult in some parts of Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Friday in an interview to public radio. "But our chances are good," he said. "We'll manage the situation and together we'll succeed once more," he told Kossuth Radio.

Fully 2,240 intensive-care beds will be needed on Nov. 21 and 4,480 on 10 Dec, according to the latest official assessment, he said.

“That’s pretty much the limit of our capacities,” he said, noting that an estimated 4,480 patients in intensive care units would mean around 32,000 coronavirus patients are hospitalised.

If the infection reaches beyond this threshold, the authorities have designated locations where adequate medical care can be provided, even outside hospitals if needed, he said.

Orbán said that within days or even hours, a decision may be made to reschedule certain low-risk operations and to release more hospital beds. Also, efforts are being made to ensure schools stay open for as long as possible, he said, adding that when students are in school, they are in a controlled environment.

So far, 98 kindergartens have had to be closed, seven schools are under suspension, 23 have introduced online study and 78 schools operate hybrid learning, he said.

Orbán noted that the average age of Covid deceased was 76.1, adding that young people should “think not only of yourselves, but also of your parents and grandparents”. Out of 3,230 localities, only 700 are now free of the epidemic, he said.

The prime minister said the government was constantly assessing whether to tighten restrictions. “But the world has changed a lot since Monday,” he said, adding that the vast majority was complying with mask-wearing rules. If shop and restaurant owners do not follow the rules, they will be closed down, he noted.

Referring to the resumption of the “special legal order”, Orbán said lawmakers had debated mask-wearing rules for two weeks before the opposition refused to vote in favour of tightening restrictions. “This doesn’t make sense.”

He said parliament was “sacred”, but quick decisions were called for at times, adding that there could be serious consequences whenever the opposition hindered measures.

Orbán said lawmakers convened on a regular basis. “Of course the liberals of the world will talk about dictatorship again,” he said. “But the government has the right to decide on issues that would normally be decided through legislation.” he said, adding that the government had not sought an extension to the special legal order beyond 90 days, not because the opposition had insisted on a deadline in the spring, but because “we now see the end of the tunnel” in light of reports that vaccines were becoming more reliable. “Ninety days will be enough,” he said.

Meanwhile, referring to the terrorist attacks in Nice and Vienna, he said they were “warning shots to remind us of the dangers other than the coronavirus pandemic that threaten Europeans.”

Migration is at the root of Europe’s problems, not a solution to its future, Orbán said, calling the approach of many European leaders “suicidal”.

“Migration solves nothing but is itself the source of the trouble,” Orbán said. Hungary, he added, “doesn’t want to fall into that trap”. That is why Hungary is “fighting” and refuses to change its practices, Orbán said.

He noted that Hungary does not allow migrants to submit their refugee application upon entry before “letting them go” due to European regulations. Applications, he added, must be submitted at the Hungarian embassies in surrounding countries. Without approval, migrants cannot gain entry, he noted.

This arrangement, he said, “will prevent hundreds of thousands of migrants applying for asylum … and from moving and acting freely in Europe,” Orbán said, adding that among them were potential perpetrators of terrorist attacks.

The prime minister said that through its adherence to Christian values, the government’s duty was to ensure peace and security.

Commenting on the plan to link EU funding to the rule of law, Orbán said the top priority was to handle the epidemic, and troubled southern countries must receive funds as soon as possible. He said Hungary was less affected since the country already had the resources needed to keep the economy functioning for the next two years.

Referring to financier George Soros, he said journalists and politicians were being “fed from the palm of George Soros’s hand”, adding that four years ago Soros had had called for budget support to be denied to countries that refused to admit migrants.

“Hungary cannot be blackmailed,” he said, adding that the country would have access to “the money it deserves”.

Commenting on the US presidential election, the prime minister said that unlike his Democratic predecessors, Donald Trump had not berated Hungary.

He called Trump “a friend of Hungary”, adding that US-Hungary relations had been on top form during his presidency. This is why, Orbán added, that he had “always been for Trump”. “The outcome will be what it will be; it’s the right of the American people to decide who governs America,” he said, adding that it was up to Hungarians “to decide who governs Hungary and how”.

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