Budapest, March 11 (AFP/APP):Hungary on Thursday reported record numbers of both Covid-19 infections and patients requiring hospital treatment as a surging third wave of the pandemic threatens to overwhelm hospitals.
Officials said coronavirus hospital patient numbers reached a record high of 8,329, while a record 8,312 new infection cases was also posted.
Around 16,500 Hungarians have died in total due to the coronavirus since the pandemic began, with another 172 deaths recorded on Thursday.
Infections have been surging since the second half of February as a more infectious variant of Covid-19 that first emerged in England has swept the country and pushed pandemic indicators over levels recorded during a second wave late last year.
“Hospitalisations could rise well above 10,000,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief-of-staff Gergely Gulyas told a briefing.
Last week Orban warned that the number could reach 20,000 and ordered a strict lockdown including school and shop closures that began on Monday.
Experts said the British variant now accounts for 80-90 percent of new infection cases and that virus-related hospital admissions will peak only in April.
According to local media hospitals nationwide are reporting full coronavirus wards, while medical staff have been reallocated to overburdened Covid-19 units in other cities.
The average age of those being treated in intensive care is also falling according to reports, while doctors have told media that they are forced to select who to admit to intensive wards.
There is no official data published on how many Covid-19 patients are sent to intensive care wards however.
The deteriorating pandemic indicators come as Hungary’s vaccination rate has accelerated in recent days and is now second-highest in the EU after Malta.
Around 1.5 million people — around 11.9 percent — of the 9.8 million-population have received at least a first jab so far according to AFP data.
The only EU member to be administering the Chinese Sinopharm and Russian Sputnik V jabs, Hungary has blamed Brussels for slow deliveries of western-developed vaccines.
Hungary’s vaccination tempo was “thanks to the Chinese vaccines” said Gulyas Thursday, while announcing the arrival in Budapest of a new batch of 450,000 Sinopharm doses from China.
Gulyas later posted on Facebook the government’s procurement contracts for the Sinopharm and Sputnik V drugs, and said Brussels should also publish its contracts with western vaccine suppliers.
But “the disclosure of the agreements does not depend on the European Commission,” said the European Commission’s branch in Budapest said in a statement to the Hungarian MTI news agency.
“It is only possible with the consent of our contractual partners,” it said.
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