Orbán asked Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony to carry out his tasks "with due seriousness" instead of "writing politically motivated letters" (Photo: MTVA)

All illegal migrants attempting to enter Hungary pose health and "biological" risks, Orbán says

PM urges people with symptoms to self-isolate

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán urged those displaying symptoms of Covid-19 to self-isolate. No form of defence against the virus can succeed without voluntary participation from the public, Orbán told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio, adding that it was primarily "a country's level of intelligence, rather than measures enacted by the government" that determined the quality of the country's response to the virus.

Recent coronavirus clusters identified in Pápa, western Hungary, and Mezőkövesd in the northeast emerged because people with coughs and fevers went to places where many others gathered, the prime minister said. The operative board coordinating Hungary’s response to the epidemic is constantly at work and soon the special unit investigating coronavirus clusters will be seen isolating any groups that may be infected, Orbán said.

The prime minister underlined the importance of the government’s National Consultation survey launched in connection with the novel coronavirus epidemic and rebooting the economy, saying it would help the government enact measures that are supported by the people. So far, more than 1.4 million people have filled out the survey, Orbán said, adding that this was “a very high number” considering how many people go on holiday this time of year.

Orbán urged the public to be “responsible” with their days off from work. He said the government had “set a good example” by cancelling the fireworks for the August 20 national holiday as it would have posed “a risk we couldn’t take”.

The prime minister asked those travelling abroad to favour neighbouring countries of which Slovakia, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia are currently considered safe in terms of the status of the epidemic there.

Meanwhile, he said that hopefully the world would handle a likely second wave of the pandemic “in a more organised manner” than it had the first one when “countries would grapple for protective equipment at various Asian airports”.

Hungary has made the necessary changes to its health-care sector that give it a better chance of putting up “a near perfect defence against the pandemic” in the event of a second wave, Orbán said, adding that he had instructed the minister responsible for health care to give a precise professional opinion on the first coronavirus vaccine to be put in use.

Hungary has already “posted an order with the EU” for 5 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine when it is developed, he said.

Regarding employment numbers in Hungary, Orbán said the number of jobholders currently fell short of the pre-pandemic period by 30,000 to 35,000. “If all goes well”, the number of those in employment may be back to pre-pandemic levels by autumn, he said, adding that the aim was to top those figures.

Fidesz won the first of its three consecutive election victories in 2010 by promising one million jobs, Orbán noted. In eight or nine years, over 800,000 jobs have been created which is “a world record”, he said. Families’ livelihoods should be based on work and not benefits, he said. “We went bust under leftist governments because they encouraged and enabled” an approach counting on unemployment and other benefits by the jobless, he said.

Regarding migration, Orbán said all illegal migrants attempting to enter Hungary pose health and “biological” risks which is to be averted “at all cost”. It would be wrong to “paint all migrants as biological bombs” by conflating migration and the novel coronavirus epidemic, Orbán said. However, “some are exactly that”, he added. Until those carrying the virus can be identified, all illegal entrants should be treated as potential sources of infection, he said.

“This is too strong a statement for social justice warriors … but Hungarians have to think about self-defence,” he said. Orbán said he had asked the interior minister to make sure the armed forces and police continue to take forceful action against all attempts of illegal entry as it now poses health risks, too.

Regarding the pop music industry, to which the government recently allocated 2.12 billion forints (EUR 6.1m) to offset the losses incurred during the epidemic, Orbán said he saw the sector as a part of Hungarian culture. The funds should be decided upon by “people from that world” to avoid dissatisfaction despite government support, he said.

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