The opposition Párbeszéd party has welcomed that the government declared a state of emergency with regard to the coronavirus epidemic, while the Democratic Coalition (DK) said the measures should have been introduced much earlier.
Tímea Szabó, Párbeszéd’s parliamentary leader, told a press conference that introduction of a state of emergency was a good start for preparations, should the situation aggravate. Szabó, however, asked why the government had not ordered the closure of schools similarly to 15 other European Union members. She argued that while children did not typically get sick, they could pass on the virus. She called on the government to work out protocols for parents who may have to stay at home with their children in case of a possible schools ban, and suggested that such parents should receive their full salaries. Szabó also called on the government to provide primary health care staff with protective gear and disinfectants, and insisted that health care services would collapse if too many general practitioners got sick.
On another subject, Szabó said it was not clear if the “tens of thousands” of guest workers returning from Italy and travelling across Hungary were screened for coronavirus. Referring to press reports, she said that passangers on flights from Italy in the past few days had not been subjected to any screening, and demanded that the earlier strict controls should be restored.
Csaba Molnár, DK’s executive deputy leader, said that the government’s declaring a state of emergency was “the result of a nervous rush” and accused the government of trying to belittle the problem for weeks. Molnar insisted that recent government reports had suggested that “there is enough health care capacity, there are enough face masks, enough respirators and all is in the best order”, while the government’s “giving itself the broadest powers under the constitution” on Wednesday constitute “a clear and serious contradiction”.
The government is “in full panic”, Molnár said, adding that “while a week or ten days ago such an announcement would have suggested a readiness to take action, now it is telling people that the government is not in control of the situation”.
Conservative Jobbik leader Péter Jakab called for a “public health border seal” and demanded that foreign nationals should only be allowed to enter the country if they had a written certificate of their non-infectious status. In a Facebook entry, Jakab said that creches, kindergartens and schools should be closed. He argued that such measures could reduce the spread of the virus by up to one thirds, and said that leaving those insitutions open could jeopardise the health of both children and parents. Jakab also warned that “hundreds of thousands” of illegal migrants in Turkey could set off for Europe, with the Turkish media suggesting that they could cross the “less controlled” Romania-Hungary border. He said it was an open question how many of those migrants could be infected, adding that it was crucial that the government should reestablish the border guards. “The border should be controlled by border guards. This is an issue of public security and public health,” he added.