Hungary’s new COVID-19 cases hit record high, Opposition leader pauses campaign after positive COVID-19 test

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BUDAPEST, Jan 19 (Reuters) – The Hungarian opposition’s candidate for prime minister, Peter Marki-Zay, said on Wednesday that he was isolating at home after testing positive for coronavirus but that he hoped to quickly return to campaigning for a closely fought general election.

Hungary is grappling with record new infections driven by the Omicron variant, although hospitalizations are so far low and most people have some vaccine protections.

Marki-Zay said on his official Facebook page that he had received three COVID-19 shots and was hoping to get back on the campaign trail in five days if he has a negative test then.

“I am well … three jabs are working in my body,” Marki-Zay, said, describing his symptoms as mild and cold-like.

“I continue working from home on our efforts to oust the government.”

The six-party opposition alliance which 49-year old Marki-Zay leads is running neck-and-neck in most polls with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party ahead of the April 3 election.


In Hungary, a country of 10 million, 40,686 people have died of COVID-19.

The daily tally of new infections jumped to a record 14,890 on Wednesday, the government reported. However, there were just 2,645 coronavirus patients in hospital, including 208 on ventilators, below previous peaks.

The government said the Omicron coronavirus variant was “spreading strongly”, fuelling infections, but that people could avoid serious symptoms by having booster shots of a COVID-19 vaccine.

There are only limited restrictions in place and schools are operating normally nationwide though wearing of protective masks is mandatory in some indoor places and on public transport.

Last week, the government announced it was making a fourth COVID-19 shot available to people who ask for it, after a consultation with a doctor.

Just over six million Hungarians have received at least two shots, and 3.43 million have received a third. The country’s vaccination rate lags most western European levels.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Alison Williams and Timothy Heritage

Photo – A nurse works in the isolation area of Honved Hospital in Budapest, Hungary. EPA-EFE/ZOLTAN BALOGH

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