Hungary hopes for 'calm plan' by May 3 on return to normal from lockdown - Metro US

Hungary hopes for ‘calm plan’ by May 3 on return to normal from lockdown

FILE PHOTO: Hungary's PM Orban takes part in an annual business conference in Budapest

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expects to present a plan early next month for a gradual return to normal from the coronavirus lockdown, national news agency MTI quoted him as saying on Monday.

MTI cited Orban as saying in an interview with Catholic Maria radio that by May 3, Hungary would be prepared to handle any rise in infections and that from that point onwards it could afford to seek ways to get back to normal, step by step.

“I will be able to talk about that on May 3 or 4 at the earliest, but I hope that by then, building on the experience of several other countries, I can present a calm … serious plan to the country,” Orban said.

Orban, who has been in power since 2010, said he expects the recession to be smaller than most observers have forecast, but that the rebound could be slower than the most optimistic projections.

There is little clarity about the impact of the crisis on Hungary’s economy. The central bank has said repeatedly that it still expects it to keep growing in 2020, while Finance Minister Mihaly Varga expects a 3% recession.

Orban on Friday said he would consider it a feat to keep the growth rate around zero.

He said on Monday that there was still no guarantee that the epidemic could be kept under control, but by May 3 the country would have enough hospital beds and ventilators for those who need them.

Hungary has 1,984 confirmed infections, and 199 deaths. The country, which has a population of just under 10 million, has only done 48,057 tests so far.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Gareth Jones and Nick Macfie)

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