Threshold could be reached by early Wednesday

Vaccinating 2.5 million could change course of pandemic, expert says

Vaccinating 2.5 million Hungarians could change the course of the pandemic, but "there must be many, many more inoculations before we can sit back", the chief infectious disease specialist at Budapest's South Pest Central Hospital told public media on Monday.

Dr Janos Szlavik said it was thought early in the pandemic that herd immunity could be achieved by vaccinating 60-70 percent of the public, but the appearance of virus mutations, especially the British variant, now means 70-80 percent may need to be inoculated to stop the pandemic.

He said more Hungarians want to get their Covid jabs as more of them see the serious consequences of the disease.

Hungary’s vaccination rollout is progressing well, and more and more demographic groups can be called in for inoculation, he said, auguring a possible return to normal routines, in many respects, by the summer.

He said there had been many new infections in recent days, and the number of Covid deaths was still “very high”.

Szlavik said it could become clear in the course of the week whether the third wave would plateau.

He said post-Covid syndrome, involving issues such as coughing, fever, headaches or memory loss, could affect around 30 percent of people who recover from the coronavirus, as opposed to the 10-15 percent previously estimated.

KTK: Hungary to vaccinate 2.5 million by Wednesday morning

The number of people vaccinated in Hungary is expected to reach 2.5 million – a threshold that will trigger a gradual easing of pandemic restrictions – by midnight on Tuesday or Wednesday morning at the latest, the government information centre (KTK) said on Monday.

Interior Minister Sandor Pinter must establish the 2.5 million mark has been reached in a resolution, after which time government decree number 144 will come into force, KTK said.

The decree will shorten the nighttime curfew by two hours from 10:00 pm until 5:00 am; it will extend business hours to between 5:00 in the morning and 9:30 at night; and it will allow businesses that were shuttered from March 8 to contain the spread of the coronavirus to re-open, but with the number of customers limited to one for every ten square metres.

The decree will not affect the ban on dining in at restaurants and recreational stays at hotels.

Schools and kindergartens will re-open on April 19, after educators and staff have been inoculated, KTK said.

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