The Hungarian Armed Forces assumed command of 51 hospitals and 84 companies of strategic importance on Monday, Defense Minister Tibor Benkő said Monday night on national television’s M1 news channel.
The decision for the country’s major hospitals to fall under military administration was part of a set of new emergency measures that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on last Friday, March 27, to ensure they continue running smoothly.
Benkő said that in times of emergency, it is critical that all emergency responses fall under a joint command. He said the appointed officers will be in charge of handling personnel assignment, logistics, supply, and proper sanitation measures, but the military will not influence any medical decisions.
The 51 hospital commanders will report to a national hospital commander, Major General Zsolt Halmosi, who is not a military officer but was previously the deputy commander of the Hungarian Police.
Benkő also said that among the several hundred companies of strategic importance, the government has so far selected 139 which will also come under military command.
Most of these companies are public utilities, food and medical producers or telecommunications companies, with 84 of them coming under military administration on Monday under similar conditions to those applied in the case of hospitals. In effect, the military commanders will handle staff continuity and logistic issues but will not interfere with daily operations.
The military’s transport capacities will also be at the commanders’ disposal should hospitals or companies need them.
In anticipation of the expected increase in the workload on the Hungarian healthcare system, police officers will begin training in assisting with administering coronavirus tests.
Title image: Hungarian servicemen guard the loading dock of logistics company Waberer’s from where protection equipment is being shipped to a Budapest hospital. (MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák)