Hungary extends state of emergency until February

A view of the city during a night-time curfew imposed by the Hungarian government as the spread of the coronavirus disease ( COVID-19) continues, in Budapest, Hungary, November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Hungary has extended until February a state of emergency that enables partial lockdown measures aimed at curbing a surge in coronavirus deaths, according to a government decree.

Originally mandated to December 11, the decree, published late Tuesday, now makes it possible for the government to maintain the restrictions a further two months until February 8.

The measures -- including a curfew between 8 pm and 5 am, a ban on gatherings, mandatory mask-wearing in public, and online tuition for high schools and universities -- were brought in as part of a state of emergency in place since November 11.

Coronavirus deaths and cases have surged in Hungary since September, with the leading doctors' association warning that understaffed hospitals could soon be overwhelmed.

Seven-day rolling average data from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) show that by Wednesday Hungary had the fourth-highest Covid-19 death rate per million in the bloc -- behind the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Bulgaria.

Over 4,200 new infections were recorded in the 9.8-million-population country Wednesday, with 7,499 coronavirus patients in hospital including 581 on ventilators.

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