Hungary reports 5,270 new COVID-19 cases in sharp rise

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BUDAPEST, Jan 5 (Reuters) – Hungary reported 5,270 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a sharp rise from the 3,005 recorded a week ago, as the Omicron variant spreads.

Omicron accounted for more than 11% of new cases, the government said. Despite the rise in cases, the number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospital was 3,090, down from 3,854 a week ago. In Hungary, a country of close to 10 million people, 39,599 people have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which faces elections in April, and opposes lockdowns for fear of stifling the economy, has stepped up its vaccination campaign since November.

It is now offering shots to anyone, without prior registration, and also booster shots to children aged 12-17.

Schools have reopened this week.

Wednesday’s data showed 5.99 million people had been fully vaccinated, while 3.19 million had received booster shots.

Hungary has made booster shots mandatory for healthcare workers, and vaccinations mandatory for all teachers. Protective masks have been required in most indoor places since late November.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Kevin Liffey)

Photo – A paramedic puts on a mask as a precaution against the spread of the novel coronavirus in the garage of the Mohacs street station of the National Ambulance Service in Budapest, Hungary. EPA-EFE/ZOLTAN BALOGH

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