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World Hungary's Orban under fire as virus second wave bites

01:30  21 october  2020
01:30  21 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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As the second coronavirus wave bites , Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- who shut the borders in September -- is holding back on tougher measures such as a lockdown, despite growing criticism of his response.

As the second coronavirus wave bites , Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- who shut the borders in September -- is holding back During the first wave , the Central European EU member had relatively low numbers of infections and deaths from the virus compared with most European countries.

As the second coronavirus wave bites, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- who shut the borders in September -- is holding back on tougher measures such as a lockdown, despite growing criticism of his response.

a woman sitting on a bed: Hungary had relatively low numbers of infections and deaths in the first wave © ATTILA KISBENEDEK Hungary had relatively low numbers of infections and deaths in the first wave a group of people standing around a bus: Critics of Hungary's government say their message was not tough enough on measures such as mask-wearing © ATTILA KISBENEDEK Critics of Hungary's government say their message was not tough enough on measures such as mask-wearing

During the first wave, the Central European EU member had relatively low numbers of infections and deaths from the virus compared with most European countries.

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As the second coronavirus wave bites , Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- who shut the borders in September -- is holding back on tougher measures such as a lockdown, despite growing criticism of his response. During the first wave , the Central European EU member had relatively low

As the second coronavirus wave bites , Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- who shut the borders in September -- is holding back on tougher measures such as a lockdown, despite growing criticism of his response. During the first wave , the Central European EU member had relatively low

But in October more Hungarians have died than in the previous four months put together.

And seven-day rolling average data from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) show that on October 19 Hungary had the third-highest Covid-19 death rate per million in the bloc -- behind the Czech Republic and Romania.

a person standing in front of a door: Teachers have also expressed rising concern since schools reopened last month © ATTILA KISBENEDEK Teachers have also expressed rising concern since schools reopened last month

A shift in government policy as well as a complacent population are to blame, according to experts.

"After the initial fright, a second wave did not provoke fear in the population, so we were much less disciplined," a Budapest medical university chief, Bela Merkely, told local media last week.

Orban's critics say the government's messaging over the summer was not strict enough on issues such as mask wearing, avoiding large gatherings and travel abroad.

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As the second coronavirus wave bites , Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban -- who shut the borders in September - is holding back on tougher During the first wave , the Central European EU member had relatively low numbers of infections and deaths from the virus compared with most

As the second coronavirus wave bites , Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán — who shut the borders in September — is holding back on tougher measures such as a lockdown, despite growing criticism of his response. During the first wave , the Central European EU member had relatively low

One minister was spotted on a yacht in Croatia while the ruling Fidesz party's spokesman caught the virus at a large summer party he hosted.

Justice Minister Judit Varga announced on Facebook late Tuesday that she had joined the growing ranks of Hungarians who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Orban has blamed the start of the second wave on foreigners -- repeating a narrative from March when Iranian students accounted for the first reported infections.

From September 1, with a few exemptions, non-residents were banned from entry into Hungary to "cut the transmission line", said the nationalist premier.

But just weeks later thousands of German and Spanish fans travelled to Budapest for UEFA's Super Cup, the organisers calling it a "pilot" to test protocols for letting fans back into stadia.

- Different approach -

Despite accusations of chaotic handling of the pandemic, Orban has held out against tougher restrictions, in contrast to March and April when he imposed a swift lockdown and a state of emergency.

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Hungary ’ s prime minister Viktor Orban declared victory over coronavirus on Saturday, announcing that the lockdown would be lifted in Budapest from Monday. But as the capital, which has been at the centre of the coronavirus crisis in Hungary , emerges from two months of restrictions, Mr Orban faces twin

Hungary has no plans to shoot at migrants trying to cross its new southern border fence and is open to talks about European quotas for taking in refugees once the frontier is sealed off, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. What to Read Next. Hungary ' s Orban under fire as virus second wave bites .

That move sparked fears of an authoritarian power grab, but the legislation was revoked by June and restrictions eased.

"People want Hungary to continue to function, the economy as well as lives must be protected," Orban said last month after a "national consultation" survey.

Such consultations, a tool favoured by the Hungarian government, have been criticised for being opaque in their methodology.

Hungarian GDP in the second quarter fell by 13.6 percent, the worst result among the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia).

"Orban realises that if the economy collapses, that could cost him the next elections" in 2022, opposition politician Akos Hadhazy told AFP.

Thanks to the consultation, which revealed a reluctance to wear masks or accept lockdowns, Orban can attempt to "wash his hands" of any health fallout, Hadhazy added.

Orban insists the hospitals, which were ordered to discharge many non-Covid patients in the spring, are prepared for a surge in admissions.

Some 16,000 ventilators have been bought in and doctors have been offered a doubling of their salary, their biggest pay-hike since 1990.

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But that rise was attached to mandatory relocation to other hospitals and fresh conditions on private work -- leading the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors to worry it could actually worsen the long-standing brain drain of medical professionals to other parts of Europe.

- 'Little relation to reality' -

Teachers have also expressed rising concern since schools reopened last month.

More than six out of 10 teachers fear catching the virus, according to a survey by the PDSZ teachers' union last week.

The union cited dozens of examples of teachers who reported being obliged to work despite infected children with light symptoms in classes.

"Neither contacts nor teachers are separated, nor are parents or teachers informed," it said.

Over the summer, the authorities failed to build up either rapid and widely available testing capacity or efficient contact tracing systems, said former Chief Medical Officer Ferenc Falus.

In the EU, only Bulgaria is carrying out fewer tests per 1,000 people than Hungary, according to ECDC data.

"The infection case statistics bear little relation to the reality," one Budapest-based doctor told AFP on condition of anonymity.

This month the number in compulsory home quarantine has been less than the number of active infection cases.

"Keeping Hungary's borders closed will soon be about protecting foreigners from Hungarians, not the other way around," said Falus.

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This is interesting!