• Kester Eddy

Then - 15th March, 1989 - Protest Commemoration on the Danube Embankment (Március 15 tér)

And Now - 1.3m inoculated - deaths top 17,000 as hospitals struggle with 9,000 Covid patients

Photo: 32 years ago today, Hungarians commemorate the 1848 anti-Habsburg Revolution in central Budapest more or less freely for the first time in living memory for most.


For many Hungarians during the communist era, March 15 was the unofficial national day, and as opponents of the regime grew bolder, clashes occurred between unofficial protestors and police during the 1980s.


However, by 1989, the regime was crumbling, and crowds several thousand strong gathered on Március 15 tér, just upstream from Elizabeth Bridge, to pay tribute to their patriotic countrymen and their sacrifice 111 years earlier. True, one or two police helicopters circled overhead, but they kept their distance, the crowd was orderly and events proceeded unmolested.


The event was reported in the international press (including The Guardian, I remember) such was the excitement generated by the political changes underway in Hungary.


Unfortunately, despite a long, frustrating search today, I can only find two photographs from that morning - the one above - of whom those pictured I know no names, and the other is the photo on the left of the montage in the previous post, KesterTester 30. (And who is, with no doubt, one of the heroes of the democratic opposition of the period.)


Alas, today, 32 years on, the country remains in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic that began a little over 12 months ago.


Last week saw four consecutive days of record infections, peaking at 9,444 reported on Friday morning for Thursday.


This brought the total infections since the start of the pandemic to just over 0.5 million.


On Sunday, new cases for the week totaled 50,473, a 35% increase on the previous seven days, making it the worst week for infections since the beginning of he pandemic.


The authorities are blaming the increase on the newer, faster-spreading mutations, including that first identified in the UK. Deaths last week totalled 1,079, about 100 fewer than the first week of December, the worst thus far in Hungary.


As of this morning, there are some 152,000 actively infected people suffering from Covid-19 in Hungary, up from 116,000, or almost one third more, on last Monday.


At this rate, any idea of easing lockdown restrictions in the near future would seem like pie in the sky.


I wish everyone a safe week ahead.

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