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I’m asking everyone to register for vaccination

At the borders, the rules will need to be tightened even further under any circumstances due to the intensive spread of the epidemic, the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister stressed that we need stringent travel rules. He said even members of the business community must understand that, due to the new virus variants causing the fast spread of the epidemic, business travel outside Europe, too, will have to be radically restricted.

He added that many are preparing to travel to exotic destinations which are more affordable in the present situation, despite the fact that the more infectious virus mutations could be introduced from Africa of all places.

Mr Orbán further reported that at its Friday morning meeting, the Operational Group instated a higher state of alert in hospitals, as part of which the so-called deployment list must also be reviewed. He said we must bring back the level of preparedness that was maintained in institutions in April and November.

The Prime Minister said in the past 24 hours 4,668 new cases of infection had been identified and 123 persons had died. 451 persons require assisted ventilation, and 5,027 hospitalisation. The number of free hospital beds currently stands at 15,831, including 2,296 equipped with ventilators.

In the next two to three weeks, the number of infections is expected to rise drastically, the Prime Minister confirmed, and as a result so will the workload of health care.

He said at the same time that as vaccination is conducted primarily by general practitioners, there will be enough personnel to administer the vaccines.

The Prime Minister observed that the Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler was wise when earlier he did not allow hospitals to return to normal operation. As a result, those who are at this time not providing normal care can join the fight against the epidemic.

In response to press reports alleging that Hungary has not reserved its full contingent of Moderna vaccines, he said “we’re doing fine as far as reservations are concerned,” as many as 17 million vaccines have been reserved. However, the preparations ordered by the EU are arriving even slower than projected, and so without the Russian and Chinese vaccines, there would be nothing to vaccinate with.

Those in charge of the fight against the epidemic, including himself, will be given access to the Chinese vaccine soon.

The Prime Minister described the behaviour of some politicial actors as irresponsible, and said the Left are anti-vaccination, fabricate fake news, create an air of uncertainty, and want to talk people out of having themselves vaccinated, despite the fact that this is our only chance.

The Prime Minister was asked about a possible infringement procedure to be instituted by the European Commission due to the partial closure of the borders. He said everyone is concerned that, due to restrictions on the transportation of goods, the European economy could become paralysed, and therefore, attempts are being made to remove restrictions. However, at present, the problem is so grave that this is no time to call each other to account.

Every country must protect itself, and must in the meantime maintain the flow of goods necessary for the operation of its economy, he added.

He also stated that at this time he would rather defend the European Commission, despite the fact that “they would deserve a clip round the ear” for having tried to procure vaccines cheaply, and having lost time as a result. In his view, any criticism is “crying over spilt milk”; the Commission must be supported with its procurement efforts, but at the same time we must stand on more than one leg. The Hungarian strategy stands on two legs, the right to procure vaccines is within national competence, and Hungary is exercising that right.

The Prime Minister took the view that the vaccination programme is well-organised and is making good progress. He added that at present more people could be vaccinated at once than the number of vaccines available.

Regarding the cyber attacks on government websites, he said while in theory Hungary has no enemies in the world, “not everybody thinks so”. Such attacks are regularly launched from international cyber space, he said, observing that there are also internal attacks. There are politically motivated attacks, and there are “idiots” who are experts in computer technology and take pleasure in such attacks. He added that defence systems to counter such attacks must be developed continuously.

He also said during the third wave of the epidemic, tens of thousands of people could lose their jobs, but “we will not leave anyone by the wayside”. He spoke about the furlough grants and job creation programmes, adding that they will continue to provide these grants not only until the lifting of restrictions, but also in the first month thereafter.

At present, 55,000 fewer people have jobs than a year ago, and so in the coming months we will have to create at least this many jobs.

The Prime Minister was also asked about the animal welfare consultation. He said it is an important issue, and Ministerial Commissioner Péter Ovádi keeps “bombarding” him with proposals. However, at this time, the management of the epidemic is the top priority, and therefore they will only be able to deal with these questions afterwards.