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16th March, 2020

Schools closed from today

All schools are closed from Monday, in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Friday evening reversing the earlier government position.

In other announcements, he said ten groups had been set up to deal with different aspects of the crisis: education, construction of a mobile container hospital to treat the pandemic, protection of vital companies, co-ordination with other countries, communications, a special legal order, public finances, revitalising the economy, finding a cure for the Covid-19 coronavirus and border control.

The government also expects the economy to stall soon, but is working on ways to restart economic activity, he said.

As schools are shut, teachers are asked to conduct classes remotely, via the internet, wherever possible.

Orbán said Hungary has the laboratory capacity to test thousands of samples, adding that World Health Organisation rules are applied to decide who is tested. There are 22 million gloves and 1.2 million surgical masks available, and another one million masks are due to arrive, he said, adding that there are 2,000 respirators in Hungary, and 2,000 anaesthetic machines, which can be enough to treat tens of thousands of cases.

Orbán also announced that, in addition to the countries flagged so far (Italy, China, South Korea and Iran), it is now also banned to enter Hungary from Israel. Hungarians coming back from that country must be quarantined for two weeks.

Sources regularly consulted, with abbreviations used in text: Népszabadság (N); Magyar Hírlap (MH); Világgazdaság (VG); Napi Gazdaság (NG); Magyar Nemzet (MN); Népszava (Nsz); Kossuth Rádió news (KR); nightly TV news (TV).

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