BUDAPEST: The number of coronavirus patients being treated in hospitals in Hungary rose above 3,000 for the first time on Wednesday, as the country prepared to hold a UEFA Champions League game in front of thousands of spectators later in the day.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has refrained from imposing tight restrictions on mass events so far, with schools operating as normal and shops open. Soccer matches have been held with spectators in stadiums nationwide.
The government has raised fines for those violating rules on wearing masks as daily new infections and the death toll rise. But Orban is seeking to avoid a repeat of a spring lockdown that sent the economy crashing by 13.6% in the second quarter.
On Wednesday, Hungarian team Ferencvaros will play Ukraine’s Dinamo Kiev in front of more than 5,000 spectators, after UEFA decided to allow the partial return of spectators for UEFA matches where local laws permit.
The number of spectators is capped at 30% of the stadium capacity. Social distancing and wearing of masks is mandatory.
The National Medical Chamber called on the government on Tuesday to limit the opening hours of restaurants, reintroduce special shopping hours for the elderly and tighten rules further on mask wearing.
“If this is not implemented, we will soon have to face … potentially several thousands of new infections on a daily basis and hundreds of people dying every day,” it said.
The government did not reply to Reuters questions on Wednesday.
“We are examining the Chamber’s proposals,” Surgeon General Cecilia Muller told a briefing. She said the healthcare system was prepared to handle the rising number of patients, and capacities were not being stretched.
On Wednesday, the total number of cases rose to 65,933 in the country of 10 million, with 43 new deaths taking the total toll to 1,578. There are 3,166 coronavirus patients in hospitals, with 263 on ventilators. — Reuters