• Kester Eddy

Coronavirus infections soar in past week – Saturday sees new record of 510 in previous 24 hours

I really didn't want to write about Covid-19 infections again this week, but given the numbers at the peak of the first wave, recorded in late March-April, the recent data are shocking.

In the past week, the daily record for newly reported infections has been broken on three separate days – peaking at 510, reported on Saturday morning for Friday's infections. A further 495 were reported on Sunday morning.

In contrast, deaths attributed to the virus have risen by just 10 in the week, and now stand at 624. But back to infections. For comparison, when I first noticed a rise in cases on the weekend of July 18-19, just seven weeks ago, the number of new infections totalled 43 over two days – and that seemed like news at the time. The latest data means a total of 2,426 new infections in the past week, and pushes the total number of active sufferers to 3,811*, well over double the 1,588 one week ago. Economic website hvg.hu reported earlier in the week that the average age of those newly infected is only 26, the implication being - as in many parts of the world - that young people are not social distancing properly. (Any trip to downtown Budapest on a weekend evening will illustrate this.) Of the current active cases, the government reports 1,638 in Budapest, with 2,173 in the provinces. The respective figures last week were 652 and 936, meaning numbers in the capital have surged by 986, a jump of 151%, while the provinces have seen an increase of 1,237, or 132%. Since there were relatively few foreign visitors in August, and few of those went to the provinces, this rather gives the lie to the notion, bandied about by some government-side politicians when speaking to a domestic audiences, that foreigners were behind the increases that month. Of course, tighter restrictions were introduced on September 1 on foreigners entering Hungary in an effort to contain the rising numbers of infections (although these were later eased for visitors with booked holidays from Czechia, Slovakia and Poland). Hoteliers have warned this destroys any chance of a recovery in the tourism sector in Budapest. The economy is also suffering from a larger downturn in the second quarter than was originally predicted. The Finance Ministry has admitted the economy is likely to shrink by between 6-7% this year, wth the budget deficit expected to be between 7-9%, twice the revised numbers published earlier. Partly as a result, the Hungarian forint has been under pressure, and is now trading at Ft 360 to the euro, compared to Ft 345 one month ago, a slide of 4.3% in value against the common currency. * The government website states 3,805 here: https://koronavirus.gov.hu/cikkek/495-fovel-emelkedett-beazonositott-fertozottek-szama-es-nincs-ujabb-elhunyt 495 újabb magyar állampolgárnál mutatták ki …. . Az aktív fertőzöttek száma 3805 fő, … but this does not tally exactly with the numbers given on the same website in the daily chart, which states there are 1,638 active cases in Budapest, and 2,173 in the provinces – 3,811 in total.

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