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Researchers at Hungary's National Centre for Public Health (NNK) have become the first in the country to successfully isolate the new coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 disease, the chief medical officer said.

The breakthrough will allow scientists to begin developing a vaccine against the virus and to test various therapies, Cecilia Müller told a press conference after a meeting of the operative board coordinating the epidemic response. The team at NNK’s national security lab that isolated the virus was led by virologist Zoltán Kiss, she said, adding that it would provide live and non-live samples of the virus to both Hungarian and foreign researchers.
Müller also said the number of coronavirus patients in Hungary is expected to reach the hundreds over the coming days, adding that the spread of the virus was in line with NNK’s projections. She said that on average one infected patient communicated the virus with two to three other people. Health-care services are being adapted so that patients with possible complications can be treated, she said. Concerning the Covid-19 cases currently being treated in Hungarian hospitals, Müller said that two of them were in a serious condition, requiring ventilators.