Preventive measures implemented against the coronavirus by Hungary have so far proven effective, Interior Minister Sándor Pintér the minister told parliament’s welfare committee on Friday. The measures include preparing an action plan and setting up an “operative board” to coordinate the actions of state authorities. Preventive measures focus in the first place on the country’s borders and the Budapest Liszt Ferenc International Airport, Pintér said. Hungary has sufficient supplies of protective gear such as face masks and gloves on stock, he added.
Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler told the committee that both his ministry and the operative board set up to coordinate preventive measures concerning the virus “have been prepared for all possible circumstances from the first moment”. Kásler said that as of now the “panic” surrounding the disease was “a considerably bigger problem” than the virus itself, noting that it has not yet been detected in Hungary. The top priority now is to prevent the virus from entering the country, he said. The minister added, at the same time, that if the virus were to be detected, the South Pest Central Hospital and other institutions were prepared to deal with such a situation. The ministry has prepared a protocol to be implemented in the event that the coronavirus is detected and has sent it out to hospitals, general practitioner practices, local councils and district government offices.
In response to a question, Kásler said the ministry updates its national pandemic preparedness plan on an annual basis, adding that there were enough respiratory machines and other equipment on hand. He said there were 1.2 million face masks available which will be distributed across the country.
State secretary for communications and international representation Tamás Menczer said the foreign ministry knew of two Hungarian citizens in areas in China locked down because of the coronavirus, neither of whom wanted to leave the country. He said there are currently 197 Hungarians in China, adding that the Hungarian embassy was in constant contact with all of them.
As regards the three Hungarians working aboard a cruise ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan earlier this week, Menczer said all three of them were healthy and in contact with the Hungarian embassy in Tokyo. A total of 61 people on the ship tested positive for the coronavirus, he noted. Besides them, there is one Hungarian citizen being treated in a hospital in the Philippines. A sample taken from that patient is being tested in Manila, Menczer said, adding that the person’s symptoms have eased. Another Hungarian citizen had to be examined in Vietnam but doctors believe that person’s symptoms had been caused by a bacterial infection, he added.
Menczer said that normally 12 direct flights operate between Hungary and China, but four of those have been suspended. From next Monday, only Air China will be operating its Beijing-Budapest flight, he said, noting that China has banned its citizens from booking group tours abroad.