Number of COVID patients hospitalized in Hungary reaches new high

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The number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals in Hungary rose above 3,000 for the first time on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has refrained from imposing tight restrictions on mass events so far, with schools operating as normal and shops open. Soccer matches have been held with spectators in stadiums nationwide.

The government has raised fines for those violating rules on wearing masks as daily new infections and the death toll rise. But Orban is seeking to avoid a repeat of a spring lockdown that sent the economy crashing by 13.6% in the second quarter.

Hungarian soldiers wearing hasmats prepare to disinfect an elementary school building in Szolnok, Hungary. Several pupils and teachers of the school have tested positive for the new coronavirus COVID-19 so soldiers of the Hungarian army disinfect the building so the school can go on functioning. EPA-EFE/JANOS MESZAROS

The National Medical Chamber called on the government on Tuesday to limit the opening hours of restaurants, reintroduce special shopping hours for the elderly and tighten rules further on mask wearing.

“If this is not implemented, we will soon have to face … potentially several thousands of new infections on a daily basis and hundreds of people dying every day,” it said.

“We are examining the Chamber’s proposals,” Surgeon General Cecilia Muller told a briefing. She said the healthcare system was prepared to handle the rising number of patients, and capacities were not being stretched.

On Wednesday, the total number of cases rose to 65,933 in the country of 10 million, with 43 new deaths taking the total toll to 1,578. There are 3,166 coronavirus patients in hospitals, with 263 on ventilators.

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