In the context of the coronavirus epidemic, the Prime Minister is expecting the country to reach “full self-defence capability” by 3 May, and from then on it will be able to seek to return to the normal course of life step by step.
“However, I will be able to talk about this on 3 or 4 May, at the earliest, not any sooner, but I sincerely hope that by then – furnished with the experiences of several countries – I will be able to present to the country a calm and composed plan that can be taken seriously,” he said.
Mr Orbán added that it was a question how long it would take for the wounds of the Hungarian economy that had sustained “a shot in the lung” to heal. In answering this question, there are different schools to follow; he belongs to the moderate school. He sees the decline now sustained as lesser than most, but foresees a slower recovery than the most optimistic, he said. He takes the view that this time next year we will be able to talk about an economy that is able to render the same performance that it did two months ago.
The Prime Minister pointed out that at this time there is no guarantee that we will be able to keep the epidemic under control, and therefore the question is what they should prepare the country for. He said he had created a Christian script for the situation, meaning that we “should hope for the best, and prepare for the worst”. He is hoping for the best, meaning that “we will be able to overcome this phase with minimal losses,” but is preparing for the worst which is none other than a situation where we fail to keep the spread of the epidemic under control and it gets out of hand, he argued.
We must assess, Mr Orbán said, that if this were to take place, approximately how many patients there would be, and how many of them would need hospital beds, intensive care and assisted ventilation. “We must prepare a military plan regarding how to achieve this. Right now I’m living my daily life doing this job,” he indicated.
He is expecting the country to reach a level of preparedness by 3 May when we could say that there are enough physicians, nurses, hospital beds and ventilators to treat all coronavirus patients in hospital even if the virus breaks loose.
Mr Orbán also said that in the present situation, at times, he meets even more people than during a campaign because the preparations for a health care emergency require a very large number of face-to-face meetings, consultations and inspections. “I meet people of all sorts by the hundreds who are well beyond the conventional realm of politics,” including priests, physicians, nurses and patients, he said.
In continuation, he said his motto goes like this: “on your own you can never be smart enough; you always need help” and so in adopting decisions, he seeks to rely on as much information and to consider as many angles as possible. As a Hungarian, this is not difficult because Hungarian experts are “among the world’s best-prepared brains”.
He mentioned as an example network researcher Albert-László Barabási who wrote already five years ago that the development of the world tending towards megalopolises would bring about an epidemic of some kind around this time.
The Prime Minister said in evaluation that at the time of trouble, the Hungarian people are more open, more understanding and more helpful, while when things are going well, he sees a version of self-confidence in life in Hungary “which borders on toughness”.
At the end of the interview, the Prime Minister said the Hungarian people had received “a warning sign”; things were beginning to go well, the economy had finally been given a boost, wages were rising, everyone had jobs, but “we received a warning sign which is ‘fine, it is important that you’re having a prosperous life, but don’t forget that you have to lead a meaningful life’. A prosperous life does not automatically mean a good and meaningful life, he said.
He observed that this is where we must seek the meaning of what we are going through now. “Use your opportunities, make more money, have a job, even more than one, and buy a new car […], all of this is important, but don’t forget that this in itself will not lead to an elevated and meaningful life. To achieve that, you have to make efforts personally […], and there are some things that you can’t forget about.” For instance, we cannot forget about one another; “the people that you are now locked in with at home, and you will only have a fine and meaningful life if you can live together with those people lovingly; that’s something that money won’t help you with,” he said.