By V4 Agency
The epidemiological measures currently in force will certainly remain in place for another week, experts say this is not the time to relax them, the Hungarian prime minister told national public radio on Friday.
The third wave of the coronavirus epidemic is breaking records, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a radio interview on Friday morning. The head of government said the most important decision of the Operative Group responsible for coordinating coronavirus response effort was to extend the measures currently in force for another week starting Monday.
Regarding whether hospitals can handle the burden, Viktor Orban said that there are enough hospital beds and ventilators; currently half of the intensive care units are vacant.
He added that he also consulted with hospital directors, who are “prepared and experienced, with no beginners among them.” All hospitals are under secure control.
Naturally, all health institution leaders have faced problems, but they can overcome them with state help, the prime minister added.
Viktor Orban said, “the most important protective measure is ramping up the number of inoculations. In Hungary, four to five times as many people are vaccinated every week as there are new infections. The prime minister asked the Operative Group to prepare a restarting plan, with vaccination roll-out as its focal point.”
The national consultation on the reopening has ended, and it is evident that the majority of Hungarians are in favour of a gradual reopening, the prime minister said. He added that the first step towards reopening becomes possible when all those over 65 who have registered for the vaccine have received it.
Regarding the fact that delivery of Western vaccines to Hungary again fell short of scheduled amounts, the prime minister said that he was constantly consulting with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, and if 500 thousand fewer Western vaccines arrive, they intend to obtain at least as many, or more from the East.
The premier added that if the contracts for the joint EU vaccine procurement programme could be disclosed to the public, everyone could see that the European Commission has a major role in the process and people could get to know the terms of the procurement procedure.
Member states are now expecting vaccines from Brussels and not regulatory concepts for a travel pass, the Hungarian prime minister said, adding that Europe has never been in such a difficult situation, and the bloc has never seen so many unhappy people.
Hungary is also exhausted psychologically, we must work not only to restart the economy, but also to restore mental health and unite the country again, he said. Representatives of culture, artists and the Churches will have an important role in these efforts, he added.
Brussels should also be addressing such issues, he noted.
Speaking about Fidesz resigning from the European People’s Party (EPP), he said that “it was good, but it was enough.”
The relationship with the EPP first suffered a major setback during the migration crisis, but the EPP had failed to lend clear support to the Hungarian government in its efforts to cut utility costs or tax multinational companies and banks.
Now amidst the pandemic, “they continue pestering us” instead of helping with the response.
“This is unfair, incompetent and inexpedient,” he pointed out.
He said he was in contact with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Italian Lega party, and they are working together to reorganise Europe’s political right.