Coronavirus: Schools close in Hungary

Hungary’s schools will stay closed from Monday in view of efforts against the spread of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a video message published on Facebook on Friday night.

From March 16 on, schools will continue education through digital channels, and no personal presence at the school will be required, Orban said. New methodologies will be introduced, proposals for which will be announced by the state secretary for education next week. The schools will be closed for pupils but the directors will be expected to be present, he said. Teachers will give classes over digital channels, he added.

Orban promised that secondary school pupils will be able to prepare for their school-leaving exams and the exams will most likely be held in the regular order. Orban said small day-care groups could be set up if necessary but it would be preferable for children to stay at home.

Children should not be looked after by grandparents because whereas young people are not in danger by the coronavirus epidemic, their parents and grandparents could get in trouble and possibly in life-threatening condition. “Let’s protect our parents, let’s protect our grandparents and let’s protect each other,” he said.

Israel has been included in the list of countries from where no foreigners are allowed to enter Hungary in an effort to combat the new coronavirus epidemic, Orban said, adding that this was necessary because several new coronavirus cases had come from Israel. As a result, currently no foreigners are allowed to enter Hungary from Iran, China, South Korea, Italy and Israel, he said.

The government has reviewed Hungary’s medical supplies available for efforts against the new coronavirus, the PM said. The country’s laboratory capacities could ensure several thousand tests, Orban said. Health institutions have 22 million pairs of rubber gloves and 1.2 million surgical face masks, while another 1 million would soon be obtained, the prime minister said. Hungary has 2,000 respirators and 2,000 pieces of anaesthesia equipment, Orban said, adding that the purchase of further machines was under way.

The government has set up ten action groups. An action group for education is headed by Zoltan Maruzsa, state secretary for public education, another for the construction of a mobile container hospital by Tamas Toth, a third in charge of the security of strategic companies by Tibor Benko, the defence minister, a fourth group for international coordination is headed by Tamas Menczer, state secretary for communications, and Zoltan Kovacs, state secretary for international communications, leads the group in charge of communications, the prime minister said.

Prime Minister’s Office chief Gergely Gulyas is the head of the group in charge of the state of emergency, Finance Minister Mihaly Varga heads the financial action group, and Andrea Bartfai-Mager, minister without portfolio is the leader of a group in charge of revitalising the economy, Orban said, adding that the economy could soon come to a halt and need a restart. The government has also set up a coronavirus medication and vaccine research group headed by Ferenc Jakab, and a border control group led by Janos Balogh, the national police chief, Orban said.

Source and photo: MTI

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