An elderly care home in Budapest’s eastern suburbs that has recently seen a surge of novel coronavirus cases was operating without doctors for at least a week, the chief medical officer has said. Documents handed over to the authorities show that “there were no doctors physically present” in the retirement home on Pesti Road “for at least a week”, Cecilia Müller told an online news conference. This means that there was no one at the home to examine the residents, she added. Authorities are currently carrying out an investigation into the spread of the virus inside the home, Müller said. The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases at the home has now reached 223, 19 of whom are staff, she said, adding that 23 people have died. A second round of tests was conducted at the home, with authorities collecting samples from 267 residents and 40 staff members. The samples are expected to be analysed by Tuesday, Müller said.
She noted that the epidemic in Hungary is expected to peak on May 3 and that this was what the health-care sector was preparing for from a technical standpoint as well.
Meanwhile, the head of the Pesti Road home rejected the “false accusations” regarding the absence of doctors at the institution. The Budapest Mayor’s Office quoted József Skulteti, the head of the retirement home, as saying in an e-mail addressed to the chief municipal clerk that the institution “employed a full-time doctor prior to and during the epidemic”. Medical services have been available at the home the whole time, in line with the existing contract between the institution and the service provider, Skulteti added.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said in a Facebook post that his office “is again responding to lies with facts and to political smears with documents”. The mayor said it was “rather concerning that the chief medical officer, too, is being forced to play a political role” in connection with the epidemic. Karácsony said that contrary to Müller’s remarks, during the period in question, the general practitioner assigned to the home had been busy testing the home’s residents using test kits provided by the city council. But when the doctor began displaying symptoms of Covid-19, the institution was only notified a week later that the doctor’s first coronavirus test had been botched, he added. “If anything, this is what was irresponsible,” the mayor said. “And what is responsible is that when the doctor was quarantined, we immediately moved to find a replacement.”