BUDAPEST (Reuters) -Hungary’s daily tally of new COVID-19 cases could hit a new peak of more than 13,000, with deaths reaching 200 a day, a government minister warned, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant fuelled a rising wave of infections.
Miklos Kasler, minister for human resources who is also in charge of healthcare, told local Inforadio late on Sunday that the government was looking into the possibility of offering a fourth vaccine shot, but more assessments were needed to measure how long immunity lasts after the third shot.
Infection figures for the weekend are expected to be released later on Monday. On Friday, Hungary reported 6,524 new infections, and 39,780 people have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Just over 6 million of Hungary’s 10 million people have received at least two shots, and 3.217 million have also received a third booster but the country’s vaccination rate still lags western European levels.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government, which faces elections likely in April, and has opposed lockdowns for fear of stifling a fast economic recovery, has stepped up its vaccination campaign since November.
It is now offering shots to anyone, without prior registration, and also booster shots to children aged 12-17.
Schools have reopened nationwide this week.
Hungary has made booster shots mandatory for healthcare workers, and vaccinations mandatory for all teachers. Protective masks have been required in most indoor places since late November.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Christopher Cushing & Simon Cameron-Moore)