The time may soon come when Budapest will need “particular measures” to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his regular radio interview Friday morning, one day after his cabinet extended coronavirus restrictions for another week.
“Sooner or later it will be unavoidable to introduce particular measures for Budapest and [the surrounding] Pest county due to the large number of infections,” Orbán said on Kossuth Rádió, without specifying what those measures could be. “The time is not here yet, but we could think about it next week.”
According to the latest official count, Hungary has 1,763 confirmed coronavirus cases, two thirds of which (1,142) are in Budapest and Pest county.
Hungary introduced emergency measures on March 28 that have been extended indefinitely on April 9, subject to weekly review by the government. Just as over the previous Easter weekend, the government again mandated municipalities to instate additional safety measures as they see fit.
Orbán said that Hungarian authorities are following closely the evolution of the pandemic in neighboring Austria, where the government recently loosened restrictions, and preparing for the onset of mass infections.
“By the time we reach the phase of mass infections, we will have learned how to behave in the conditions of a mass epidemic,” he said, adding that out of Hungary’s total 68,000 hospital beds, 34 percent were currently unoccupied and the government’s target was to free up half of all existing beds in anticipation of a mass infection.
Speaking about the economy, Orbán said that he was hopeful about the success of the government’s economy-boosting package consisting of some 200 measures and that it would be a “huge feat” if the country’s economic performance this year could equal last year’s one. He warned, however, that things will not return to a pre-pandemic state.
“The players in the economy must be mindful that everyone wants life to return to the state it was in before the epidemic, but life will never be like it was then,” he said. He also said that an air bridge between China and Hungary has been established and medical equipment is arriving regularly, with the number of available respirators nearing 8,000.
Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in the Kossuth rádió national channel. (source: mtva.hu)