BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary is proposing extending remote learning for secondary schools beyond next Monday due to high coronavirus infections and uncertainties over a new variant of the virus that first emerged in the United Kingdom, a state secretary said.
Zoltan Maruzsa told an online briefing on Thursday that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government would make a decision about the extension on Friday, adding however that classroom teaching in secondary schools was unlikely to resume next week.
“We decided to be cautious, the safety of human lives is the most important thing now,” Maruzsa said.
“The government will decide tomorrow, but I am asking schools to prepare for in-person teaching not to start again on Jan. 11.”
Since Nov. 11 all secondary schools have been closed as have hotels and restaurants except for takeaway meals, a 1900 GMT curfew has been in place, and all gatherings have been banned.
These measures had been due to expire on Monday. The government will decide on Friday whether to extend them.
As of Thursday, Hungary had reported 334,836 COVID-19 cases and 10,325 deaths. More than 5,000 people are in hospital, down from earlier peaks, but fresh data shows new infections rising again.
Hungary has not detected the variant of the coronavirus found in Britain yet, surgeon general Cecilia Muller told the briefing.
(Reporting by Anita Komuves and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Catherine Evans and Hugh Lawson)