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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

Coronavirus: average daily new cases inch upwards, but active cases in Budapest jump 40%

First of all, I should mention that I never intended to report regularly on the coronavirus situation in Hungary. It just so happened that earlier I noted some small, yet I thought significant trends in infection rates that were not being properly reported and assessed, certainly not to the non-Magyar audience, and these prompted me to write a couple of pieces.

However, since these posts have attracted quite a lot of interest – at least by this blog's standards – I've decided to report again on the past week's number. But if nothing much is happening in future, I won't report for the sake of it.

I admit to taking my eye off the C-19 ball earlier in the week, first because the numbers reported seemed encouragingly modest, secondly because I went to the wild lands of the Kunság for a day (more anon) and spent time afterwards catching up on other subjects.

So first to the headline number: On Friday morning, 21 August, the authorities reported no fewer than 52 newly infected C-19 patients – a daily number not seen since May 16, when 56 were recorded (according to my efforts to go back on the government website pages).

In Hungarian, here

This spike has to be set against the week's numbers of course, which are less dramatic. We've seen 239 new infections over the past seven days, or an average of just over 34 per day. While this is only two more per day than the average from Aug 6 - 16, it still represents a rise of 6.25%.

The total number of deceased attributed to C-19 now stands at 613, up from 608 on the week.

Perhaps most significantly, the number of people actively suffering from the C-19 virus in the capital jumped by from 215 to 302, a rise of 87, or a 40% increase. While this is from a low base, I'd say this is a concern, certainly if the trend continues next week.

In comparison, active sufferers in the provinces rose by 75 to 545, a rise of just 16% - albeit from a bigger base - and a reversal of the trend in the first half of the month, when new cases in the provinces were outpacing those in the capital.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in his regular Friday morning address on Hungarian Radio (I won't deem it an interview, since it's clearly stage managed) said Hungary “must introduce new, stricter restrictions” in order to tackle the spread of the coronavirus from September 1, but gave no details.

English transcription here

Since the programme is pre-recorded, the PM would not have been in possession of the spike release on Friday and his comments refer rather to fears that the resurgence of infections in southern Europe will impact Hungary unless rules are tightened.

Meanwhile, in the capital there have been warnings that passengers will be barred from public transport if not wearing masks - but a couple of trips on the metro and buses revealed little has changed. I'd say most morning commuters obey the rules, especially women, but as the day progresses people get slacker. I watched a teenage girl removing her mask to shout a conversation at an older woman sitting opposite when riding the yellow metro on Wednesday. If they ever get round to enforcing the rules, there'll be qute a few folks dumped back on the platforms and pavements.

Of course, the country has largely been on vacationfor the past month or so, but now we are past the national holiday of August 20, we can expect things to be getting back to 'normal' – whatever that means - next week.

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