On Friday, another three Hungarians patients were diagnosed; all three are in hospital and well, Tibor Lakatos, head of the Operational Group Duty Centre stated at a press conference held on Friday in Budapest.

According to his information, cases continue to remain isolated. They are working on preventing the development of group incidences, he added.

He also said they have reinstated border controls. There is a ban on entry in relation to persons arriving from certain countries. He said to date 11,437 Hungarian nationals have been checked. From among them, 166 Hungarian nationals have been ordered to remain in compulsory home quarantine. One foreign citizen was taken to hospital suspected of having contracted the coronavirus. 204 persons were denied entry into the country, Mr Lakatos said outlining the details.

The Operational Group for the containment of the coronavirus infection sees no justification for closing down any one settlement, the head of the Operational Group Duty Centre stated.

Mr Lakatos stressed that they are asking the elderly to stay at home, and their family members to pay more attention to them. He recalled that the government had decided to ban indoor events with an audience of more than 100, and outdoor events with an audience of more than 500 persons in the interest of preventing the spread of the infection.

We need everyone who took an oath to serve the country: health care workers, police officers, soldiers and civil servants, he stressed, highlighting the role of the media in relaying the message that the epidemic must be taken seriously. He asked the media to publish information materials intended for the public, in particular, appeals to the elderly.

We have reached a level where every minute counts for the disease control authorities, he said, adding that with the rise in the number of patients, the number of disease control contact searches and potential infected persons also rises. Therefore, from now on the police will also be involved in disease control investigations.

Mr Lakatos asked members of the public to cooperate to help prevent creating panic. He said rumours about the closing down of Budapest or any other city are fake news. Regarding the spreading of fake news, he warned that it qualifies as a threat to cause public danger. The National Bureau of Investigation is continuously monitoring online media, and if they detect a suspected crime, they institute proceedings; also at present, there are 4 in progress. If the fake news does not amount to a crime, they provide for its removal with the assistance of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority. It is difficult to stop the spread of rumours, and therefore they are asking for the assistance of members of the public in only sharing verified information and actual facts, he said.

Regarding the surrounding countries, he said in Austria there are 302, in the Czech Republic 117, in Croatia 19, in Poland 58, in Serbia 19, in Slovakia 16 and in Slovenia 89 registered coronavirus patients; in both Austria and Poland 1 person has died of the virus. He confirmed that in Hungary no one has died of coronavirus infection, while one patient has recovered.

In answer to the question as to why the classmates of a Budapest secondary school student whose mother has been diagnosed with the virus have not been tested, he said he has faith in the knowledge of disease control experts. They evidently had good reason to act the way they did.

He said explaining the increase in the price of the face masks manufactured in penal institutions fundamentally for the health care system that penal institutions have switched to three shifts and the price of the raw material imported from China has risen.

Regarding the protective equipment of health care workers, he said the necessary stocks are available, while general practitioners are given 3 special face masks by the ambulance service which they are required to wear if they come into contact with infected persons.

In answer to a question from the Hungarian news agency MTI about border controls, he said the obligation to enter quarantine applies to everyone, including Hungarian truck drivers. He added that the nationals of other countries coming from areas which qualify as epicentres are denied entry into the country, and the fourteen-day compulsory home quarantine applies to Hungarian nationals or individuals who also have Hungarian citizenship.

Regarding the video footage in which a police officer advises a driver not to declare that he came from Italy, he said they condemn negligent practices among serving officers, in particular when it comes to the lives and health of Hungarians. He added that they will investigate the case and conduct the most stringent possible procedure.

In response to reports that several schools authorised absence for their students, he said the government’s earlier decision does not permit the ordering of school breaks; however, students can be sent home within school competence.

In the context of compulsory home quarantine, he pointed out that in Budapest the relevant decision is adopted by the metropolitan office, while in the countryside by the district offices. The police check the individuals concerned and ensure that they disturb their privacy rights to the minimum possible degree. At the same time, they will take action against anyone who intentionally violates quarantine rules.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)