BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungary’s COVID-19 deaths and new infections jumped over the weekend to their highest level since the start of the fourth wave of the pandemic, government data showed on Monday.
Health authorities registered 1,492 new infections and 31 deaths over the past three days, bringing the total number of cases to 824,876 and deaths to 30,230 since the start of the pandemic.
Although the latest figures are still well below those registered during previous waves, the data reflects a slowly worsening trend. Neighbouring Serbia and Romania have seen a sharp deterioration in their COVID-19 statistics.
Using millions of doses of Russian Sputnik V and Chinese Sinopharm jabs along with western vaccines, Hungary had initially been at the forefront of a European Union vaccination drive this year.
However, with over half the population inoculated, the pace of the campaign slowed sharply despite repeated pleas by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government for Hungarians to get vaccinated.
Based on latest data, 5.66 million Hungarians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the country of about 10 million, and 804,000 people have also received booster shots.
Hungary is entering the fourth wave of the pandemic without any meaningful restrictions on activity, with pubs, restaurants and schools open across the country. Mask wearing is only mandatory in hospitals and health care facilities.
Orban’s government, which faces the prospect of a closely-fought election next year, has said there will be no lockdowns and any new restrictions would only affect those not vaccinated against COVID-19.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs, editing by Ed Osmond)