World News

Hungary daily coronavirus cases near 1,000, schools to stay open

FILE PHOTO: Military police officers patrol City Park as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Budapest, Hungary, April 6, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s daily new coronavirus cases reached a record 916 on Saturday, by far the highest since the onset of the pandemic as schools reopened and strict measures that helped contain the pandemic in the spring have yet to be reinstated.

Even as the number of cases rise, the number of people dying from the disease has remained fairly low, with only two elderly patients with chronic pre-existing conditions dying from complications of the coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

The government’s coronavirus task force said active cases reached 7,134, but Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who attended a session of the task force early on Saturday, said schools can stay open and life must go on.

“The health care sector is prepared to handle the next wave of the pandemic with more than 10,000 free beds,” he said, adding that citizens must respect the lenient rules that are in place, such as mandatory mask wearing in public transit.

“We can operate schools,” Orban said in a video on his Facebook page. “From October 1st we will impose mandatory temperature checks at school gates as well.”

Orban said the government will force a cap on the price of COVID tests, which has reached as much as 100 euros in private clinics around the country, as the free tests provided by the health care sector were slower and more difficult to come by.

Hungary must protect its citizens, including the most vulnerable elderly, while also keeping the economy going, Orban reiterated his government’s strategy.

Hungary has had 11,825 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 633 people dying.

Reporting by Marton Dunai; editing by Clelia Oziel