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  • Writer's picture Kester Eddy

Covid-19 Infections Maintain New Levels, Consistently Higher Rates in Provinces

Hungary saw 220 new Covid-19 infections last week, bringing the total since the jump in infections on 6th August to 352, or exactly 32 per day. This is some three times the rate in the same period of July. Six people died with Covid-19 infections in the week, bringing the national total to date to 608. Human Resources Minister Miklós Kásler advised that “The virus is here again amongst us,” in a video message on Monday (not that it had ever gone away, of course), and urged the population to, in essence, self isolate if they show any symptoms whatsoever in order to restrict the spread of infections. At least one official – sorry, I can't find who it was now – said the virus was re-entering Hungary after visits abroad. Well, that may well be true, but what's interesting is that the number of infections in the provinces is consistently above that of Budapest. For example,of the 39 new infections reported on Sunday morning, only 10 were inthe capital, with 29 elsewhere.

Source, in Hungarian, and you still have to do some sums to get these numbers: (I know it's statistically not good practice to base too much on one day's figures, but the authorities make it so fiddly to calculate the numbers you want to know, that's what I've done here. I have looked at earlier data,and believe me, this has been the case for every day this month thatI've checked.) Now it's true that the population of the provinces is between four and five times that of the capital (depending on how you define the conurbation) but since the folks of Budapest are richer, and surely travels far more abroad than the average Magyar, I'd posit it means that vidéki behaviour is somewhat slack when it comes to C-19. Unless, that is, the Budapest population is being much more careful about hygiene and social distancing. Alas, a trip on a metro train in the city will dispel any illusions on that score. I'd estimate 25% of passengers are not wearing masks, and of those that do, one third are not covering their noses while others lift their masks to shout at their neighbours – which kind of defeats the purpose. My observations out of town in May (in Baja and Dunaújváros), just as official lock-down in the provinces was being lifted, gave me the feeling that country folk didn't really believe there was any threat from C-19 at all. I suspect some are paying for the over-confidence then with infections today. Meanwhile, in case you are flying into Hungary and want a testing facility, Semmelweis University has a bunch of places you can get it done – for a fee. (Disclaimer: I have no ties whatsoever with this institution.) And here's the official govt site in English - for what it's worth. (Hint to any government honcho who reads this - why don't you put up the number of new infections and deaths each day, and save people from trying to work these out?)

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