Dr. Zoltan Kovacs, a Hungarian Government Spokesperson said that the country acted early compared to its Western European neighbours to have lockdown measures in place in response to the novel Coronavirus pandemic and hence was able to avert the devastation that other countries like Italy and Britain faced. Hungary has so far reported just over 3,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 350 deaths.
Speaking exclusively to Republic TV, Dr. Zoltan Kovacs, Hungarian government spokesperson, said, "We acted much earlier than in western European countries. That's why you see a fairly flat curve of infections and even the number of those who died is not high compared to globally. Hungarian measures worked because we had a lockdown very early and by that, we managed to slow down the spread of the virus."
Talking more about the lockdown, Dr. Kovacs said Hungary entered the second phase of the lockdown on Monday. As part of it, some stores and museums, outdoor spaces of restaurants and hotels, beaches and baths have been allowed to reopen but restrictions will remain in the capital Budapest, which has recorded about 70% of the country's cases. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had announced a two-week lockdown on March 27.
"As of May 4, we have entered the second phase of the lockdown. We have divided the country into two zones, one including capital Budapest and its neighbouring counties and the rest of this country. We believe it (the strategy) is going to work for us in the future too," Zoltan Kovacs said.
He said that countries like Italy, Spain, the UK and France were late in introducing measures like lockdown and later had to impose harsh measures weeks later, which Hungary managed to avoid due to its early response. "We hope our economy is not as hard hit as Western Europe. We acted earlier," Kovacs said.
When asked about Hungary's plan to open up the economy, he said the country will open up in a gradual manner and has introduced a relief package to help companies avoid layoffs.
"It's too early to say how the virus behaves. There is a high possibility that sometime in September/October, a second wave of infection will come. That's why we are very cautious about opening up. Step-by-step, with a strict schedule, we have to start rebuilding our lives. To stop job losses, we have introduced hundreds of millions of euros package to save jobs and help those companies who help us fighting the virus. We have to have a gradual lifting of lockdown," Kovacs said.