Hospitals in Hungary have been ordered to free up half of their beds by April 19 in preparation for a massive increase in novel coronavirus infections, koronavirus.gov.hu said. The data on confirmed coronavirus cases indicates a rise in infections in Hungary, the statement said, adding that hospitals will have to be prepared to treat an increasing number of patients. The aim is to ensure that all major hospitals have enough beds to treat up to hundreds of patients at a time once the outbreak reaches the phase of mass infections, it said. By April 19, hospitals have to free up 50% of their beds, enough for 32,900 patients. By the next phase, hospitals will have to have 39,500 beds ready for Covid-19 patients, or 60% of their bed capacity.
The aim of the regulation is to avoid situations seen in other countries where sudden spikes in coronavirus cases left hospitals without enough beds to treat patients, the website said. “Hospitals are being prepared for a worst-case scenario,” it said. Hospitals within the same county have been given permission to transfer patients amongst themselves. The statement said the instruction to free up beds did not mean that all non-Covid-19 patients would be discharged. Patients are released based on a decision by their doctors as well as on the basis of health protocols, it added.
The opposition Párbeszéd party said it is calling on the government to have an independent professional committee to decide on the required pace and number of hospital beds to be freed up because of the novel coronavirus epidemic. Party co-leader and parliamentary group leader Tímea Szabó told an online press conference that Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler’s recent decision to free up 36,000 hospital beds would endanger the lives of tens of thousands of people. Many seriously ill non-coronavirus patients released from hospital will have no access to proper medical care at home, she said. As a consequence, tens of thousands will be forced to give up their jobs in order to be able to look after their loved ones, she added.