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Hungary PM says to decide about Christmas COVID rules in about 10 days

FILE PHOTO: Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo reuters_tickers
This content was published on November 27, 2020 - 08:40

By Krisztina Than

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's government will decide in about 8-10 days on restrictions to be applied over the Christmas holidays to curb coronavirus infections, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told state radio on Friday.

Orban said that two weeks after a night-time curfew and restrictions were introduced, infection data "have not shown a significant change" and the number of hospitalised COVID patients would soon reach 10,000, which meant the healthcare system was "under enormous pressure."

Orban said Hungarians should not book skiing holidays abroad as they would have to face a very serious quarantine obligation on their return.

The central European country closed secondary schools, universities and restaurants and imposed an extended night-time curfew from Nov. 11, and then introduced restricted shopping hours this week to protect old people.

However, the government has not tightened restrictions further this week, even as health officials reported a steady rise in new cases and deaths.

Orban said the government has worked out an inoculation plan, with healthcare workers and the most vulnerable to be vaccinated in the first phase, and a mass voluntary vaccination plan to be applied once a sufficient quantity of COVID vaccines become available later in the spring.

Hungary reported 6,360 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the second-highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic, while the number of deaths, at 115, was the third-highest on record.

(Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by John Stonestreet, Kirsten Donovan)

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