The Hungarian Armed Forces currently have 1,500 personnel performing coronavirus epidemic-related duties, but they are ready to increase that number by another thousand should the need arise, Defense Minister Tibor Benkő told news portal Origo in an interview on Monday.
“Soldiers are already present in the cities, helping enforce the movement restrictions in place,” Benkő said in the interview. “Should the need arise, more soldiers will patrol in more cities.”
Hungary introduced emergency measures on March 28 that have been extended indefinitely on April 9, subject to weekly review by the government
Since then, the number of troops helping border police patrol the southern and eastern borders of the country most exposed to the pressure of illegal immigration has been doubled.
In addition, army personnel are now also involved in the protection of the western and northern borders and in some cases are even manning border crossings.
The armed forces are also patrolling roads and military commanders have taken over the administrative leadership role at 51 hospitals, ensuring personnel availability, assisting in disinfection, setting up and manning triage tents, and providing critical transport when needed.
Military personnel have also been deployed to guard warehouses with medical and protective equipment and military commanders are also in charge of over 100 companies critical for the normal functioning of the country — mostly public utilities and energy suppliers.
Benkő added that the armed forces are performing these extra duties on top of their regular jobs of training and participation in allied missions overseas.
The Hungarian Armed Forces currently have a headcount of 31,000.
Title image: Mounted police patrolling past a farm on the Great Hungarian Plain. (MTI/Attila Balázs)