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Hungary is at the start of a long period of protective measures against the novel coronavirus, Viktor Orbán has said.

The prime minister told parliament that in the West there was now a shortage of equipment needed for protection against the virus, and help is only available from “the East”, where “we have secured huge stocks”. Supplies will arrive continually and “more than ten aircraft are in service”. Orbán called on lawmakers to put aside political disputes and stand together. Cooperation will be crucial in the difficult times to come, he added. “The more people cooperate, the more lives we can save,” he said. Regarding border protection measures, Orbán said Hungary had an interest in maintaining friendly relations with its neighbours, “so they can count on our help”. Regarding economic measures to mitigate the epidemic’s impact, Orbán said the first task was to forestall the slowdown of the economy, then take steps to “restart” it. On the moratorium on loan payments, which the government announced last week, Orbán said the “banks will not be left to fend for themselves”, as the central bank will ensure their liquidity for 2020.