The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has reached a record high in Hungary, and the country’s chief medical officer has warned the population to observe all measures and exercise extra caution in their daily lives as there was no sign that the infection rate would subside.
Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller said the epidemic situation in Hungary was “extremely serious” with growth levels exceeding all previous levels. The number of active patients increased by tens of thousands in just a few days, she added, pointing out that screening buses also work in seven places around the country.
Müller explained that the number of active patients had increased by 5,000 to 10,000 in a few days, with 6,494 new infections found in the last 24 hours. So far, the highest number of people on a ventilator was on Dec. 7 (674) and the most hospitalized was on Dec. 8 (8,045), but these figures have now been exceeded with 8,270 in hospital and 833 on a ventilator.
She added that this puts a heavy burden on the healthcare system, with new wards having to be opened daily for coronavirus patients.
No improvement in sight
Müller said the environmental health data is also deteriorating, and the amount of the virus’ DNA material measured in wastewater has increased in virtually all major cities, meaning there will be no improvement in the coming days. She said that “an increase in the number of those infected is to be expected”.
Elevated coronavirus levels in wastewater were observed in Eger, Kecskemét, Győr, Kaposvár, Nyíregyháza, Salgótarján, Tatabánya, Veszprém and in the Budapest metropolitan area: Tököl, Biatorbágy, Budakeszi and Százhalombatta.
She said 1,047,045 people have received the first dose of the vaccine so far, and 314,485 have already received the second dose. However, she pointed out that the vaccine “gives a false sense of security”, as no one should yet be considered protected. It takes at least two to three weeks to develop protection, so hygiene rules must be strictly followed even after the vaccine is taken, she said.
Müller emphasized that the vaccination strategy had changed and now the goal is to get as many people as possible to receive the first dose of the vaccine, as it already provides a certain level of protection.
She mentioned that 100,000 doses of Sputnik V vaccine had been released by healthcare authorities, which individually check every batch arriving in the country. In addition, 120,510 doses of Pfizer vaccine had also been received, and these will be sent to the vaccination points on Tuesday. This week, general practitioners can already vaccinate with AstraZeneca, for which 105,600 doses are available. From Thursday to Sunday, those who would have been due this weekend will also receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Anyone who falls into this category will receive a message and will be waiting at one of the 429 hospital vaccination points, she said.
Vaccination of police officers and soldiers begins
Vaccination of law enforcement officers and soldiers will also begin, Müller said. The national chief medical officer asked those vaccinated to take the consent form with them to vaccination appointments, which can be downloaded from vakcinainfo.gov.hu.
The 1818 phone number can also be called for data reconciliation, she said, adding, however, that only a GP, attending physician or vaccinator can be asked about vaccination. Staff at the National Center for Public Health do not and cannot give information on what vaccine is right for any given person, she added.
Due to deteriorating epidemiological data, Müller urged everyone to abide by the rules of mask wearing and distance and to accept the vaccination offered.