Hungary's Orban: Health care prepared for rising infections

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A woman wearing a face mask walks to get tested for COVID-19 at a sampling station in Prague, Czech Republic, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. The Czech Republic has been been facing the second wave of infections. The number of new confirmed coronavirus infections has been setting new records almost on a daily basis, currently surpassing 3,000 cases in one day for the first time. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

BUDAPEST – Hungary’s prime minister said Friday that the government has drawn up a “war plan” to defend against the new wave of the coronavirus pandemic and that the country’s health care system is prepared to handle to rising number of new virus cases.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on state radio that while everyone was asked to stay home during the first wave of the pandemic, the preparedness of hospitals and sufficient ventilators now made it possible for the country to keep functioning while respecting strict rules about wearing masks and social distancing.

“During the first wave, all we could say was that everyone should stay at home and meanwhile we’ll get the health system ready,” Orban said. “Now the task is not for everyone to stay at home but, on the contrary, for everyone to keep on living their lives.”

“The country has to function, but it has to function while at the same time it protects itself against the virus in a disciplined manner and following the rules.”

Hungary, Romania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have all announced a record number of new cases this week.

The steepest spike in the region was in the Czech Republic, which announced 3,130 new cases on Friday. That was almost 1,000 more than the previous record, set a day earlier. Slovakia also set a new daily record of 235, breaking the Sept. 4 mark of 226. In Romania, the record was set Wednesday, with 1,713 new cases and the daily tally has since remained above 1,500.

Early Friday, Orban visited the Korányi National Pulmonological Institute. In a video of the visit posted on his Facebook page, a doctor could he heard telling the prime minister that the hospital was nearing its capacity to take in coronavirus cases — it was treating around 40 patients and had 12 beds left — and while it had enough ventilators, the problem was more about the need for specialists to operate the machines.

Hungary announced 941 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, for a total of 16,111 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 669 deaths. Of the infected, 374 people were being treated in hospital and 29 were on ventilators.