At two o’clock this afternoon, national commander-in-chief Zsolt Halmosi will hand over letters of appointment to hospital commanders, the head of the duty centre of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the coronavirus infection said at an online press conference held on Sunday.

Tibor Lakatos highlighted that it is the duty of hospital commanders to help and support the activities of hospitals in the management of the epidemic. They will not be entitled to make recommendations or decisions regarding medical issues, he pointed out, adding that their responsibilities will extend to managing supplies, maintaining the necessary information flow and protecting physical facilities.

We sincerely hope that with this contribution, too, we will be able to effectively support the activities of hospitals and relieve hospital workers of various statistical data supply responsibilities so that they can devote most of their working hours to caring for patients, he said.

He also pointed out that while the restrictions on movement do allow a certain degree of movement, this does not mean that people can freely gather and use communal spaces. The stringent regulations allow everyone to take care of their own and their families’ needs, and make it possible for members of the public not to have to spend all their time indoors. At the same time, the goal is to reduce the speed of the spread of the virus through social distancing, and to thereby contribute to an effective containment effort, he said.

He said the situation at the borders continues to remain calm both in cargo and passenger traffic, and there are no restrictions on commuting.

In answer to a journalist’s question, he said on Saturday, on the first day of the introduction of the restrictions on movement, police action primarily concentrated on markets and shopping centres as these were the venues where large numbers of customers were expected to be present. He added that the experiences so far were clearly positive; people have understood the importance of keeping a distance from one another, and members of the generation over 65 have also understood that these measures serve their safety as well.

There were some persons over 65 who were not satisfied with the time slot made available for their generation, but they have to understand that it had to be limited in order to reduce their exposure, he pointed out.

He added that they had also had positive experiences in connection with the operators and workers of stores. They proceeded with due care, and did not let in younger customers between 9.00 a.m. and 12.00 p.m. In response to suggestions that the elderly would prefer to go shopping earlier, Mr Lakatos said when determining the time slot they had to consider that there are persons under 65 who can only go shopping before going to work.

He further highlighted that police officers had interviewed members of the public about whether they regarded the measures introduced so far as useful and effective, and answers clearly confirmed that people saw them as effective means.

In response to suggestions that at popular hiking destinations, locals are complaining about large numbers of tourists, he said local governments can only impose limited restrictions, but there have been instances where instead of adopting measures, local governments have made recommendations. There are municipalities which have closed down playgrounds, while others recommend that for the time being people should not visit popular hiking destinations.

In answer to a question about the protective supplies received last week, he said these supplies are currently being put into storage and taken stock of. Supplies delivered to hospitals so far originated from already existing stocks. They are making every effort to ensure on an ongoing basis that all hospitals have at least one week’s worth of reserve supplies, he said.

The novel coronavirus is expected to infect more and more people in Hungary, with many new cases being diagnosed, the Chief Medical Officer stated at the Sunday online press conference of the Operational Group responsible for the containment of the coronavirus infection.

Cecília Müller said they are carrying out ever more laboratory tests as contact searches are still under way.

So far 12,148 samples have been taken. The seven designated laboratories are working around the clock, testing is ongoing, there is no backlog, she said.

The Chief Medical Officer highlighted that, based on information available at this point, in a significant percentage of infected persons – more than 80 per cent – the disease causes mild symptoms.

She said in the last 24 hours the number of confirmed patients has increased by 66 which means that there are 408 registered patients now. There have been another two fatalities, two patients aged 86 and 90, respectively, who suffered from other chronic diseases.

She pointed out that anyone detecting symptoms of infection, such as fever, a dry cough, limb and muscle ache, sometimes combined with stomach ache and intestinal discomfort, should immediately phone their general practitioner. In every suspected case, paramedics take samples in the patient’s home, and if necessary take the patient to hospital.

Patients displaying severe symptoms are being received by institutions and organisational units designated throughout the country, and all the infrastructure, beds, physicians and drugs necessary for patient care are available in all institutions, she added.

At the same time, she continued, the infection only causes minor symptoms in more than 80 per cent of cases. In these cases, there is no need for hospital treatment; however, the infected person must be carefully isolated even within their own home.

In answer to questions, she said the Hungarian authorities took the first disease control measures based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) notification already on 25 January, before the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control declared the spread of the virus a threat. This means that Hungary started its containment effort in time.

She took the view that within the next few days or weeks, the spread of the virus could enter the phase of mass incidences, and so members of the public must take the regulations ever more seriously.

In her view, compared with other affected countries, the Hungarian fatality rate in relation to the country’s population is not particularly high. At the same time, there is no point in comparing numbers because each country is managing the situation differently, she added.

The underlying conditions of the deceased correspond to Hungarian mortality data. Meaning that some 50 per cent of patients suffered from cardiovascular diseases, while one quarter from different forms of cancer. Their average age was 69 years, she said.

She also stated that at present 14 patients are on mechanical ventilation in intensive care.

Regarding reports that a resident of an elderly care home in Nagymágocs has been diagnosed with coronavirus infection, Ms. Müller said on Saturday one of the residents of the home suffered a fall and was taken to hospital where she developed a fever and was diagnosed with coronavirus infection.

Since then, presence of the virus has been confirmed in 7 of the 286 residents of the home. However, none of the workers have been infected, and disease control measures are currently being implemented, she detailed.

In the context of reports from several countries claiming that the quality of the face masks and protective supplies received from China is not satisfactory, the Chief Medical Officer admitted that the quality of supplies arriving in the country did indeed vary. Therefore, after receipt, they check all protective supplies because it is important to provide reliable protection.

She also mentioned that, according to the regulations, all employers, including companies providing waste management services, are required to provide their workers with appropriate protective supplies based on the findings of risk assessments.