The opposition Socialist and Párbeszéd parties have slammed the ruling parties for boycotting a planned meeting of parliament’s welfare committee that would have been used to discuss matters related to the novel coronavirus epidemic, thus preventing the committee from reaching quorum.
The hearing convened for Wednesday would have served to clarify the situation that arose at the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Hospital during the epidemic and for the committee to put questions regarding the procurement of ventilators to the operative board coordinating Hungary’s response to the outbreak, Lajos Korózs, the Socialist head of the committee, told an online press conference. He said the number of Covid-19 cases in hospitals now exceeded those in elderly care homes. Korózs said the operative board would have been asked whether the health authorities had investigated the situation at the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Hospital after a spike in coronavirus cases at the institution and why it had not started testing staff for the virus until late March. He said he also wanted to know whether the ventilators purchased by Hungary were adequate for treating Covid-19 patients. Korózs added that lawmakers of the Fidesz-Christian Democrat alliance had a duty to attend the meeting, adding that he would reconvene the committee for next Monday.
Meanwhile, liberal Párbeszéd said it would have asked the operative board about reports saying that the number of coronavirus cases outside the capital is higher than originally thought. “Though the cabinet is trying to pin the blame for the situation at the elderly care home on Pesti Road on Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, tests conducted in recent weeks have made it abundantly clear that the government is to blame,” Párbeszéd group leader Tímea Szabó said in a video message on Facebook. “Now that it’s become clear that the Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Hospital is one of the most severe clusters,” Párbeszéd expects Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to apologise to Karácsony, the families of those who have died from the virus and to those who had become infected “because of the irresponsible actions of the government”, she said.
The Government Information Office said Fidesz and Christian Democrat lawmakers would wait to attend the welfare committee’s meetings until after the end of the state of emergency declared due to the epidemic.