Coronavirus: 7 cases in Hungary, the quarantined are held in 3-6 bed wards

2020-03-08 12 04 19-5 Albert Flórián út - Google Maps.png
2020.03.08. 12:23

On Saturday night, two more people tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Hungary, the government's coronavirus website reported on Sunday morning.

The sixth Covid-19 patient in Hungary is a 22-year-old Iranian student of the Semmelweis Faculty of Health Sciences, he attended a birthday party with the Iranian pharmacology student who was confirmed to be amongst the first two cases in Hungary on Wednesday. He is currently treated at the Central Hospital of Southern Pest (DPC) in Budapest.

The seventh case is a Hungarian citizen, she is the wife of the 69-year-old British man who was diagnosed on Thursday morning - her infection was confirmed on a repeated test after her initial test returned negative. She is in the Kenézy Gyula Hospital in Debrecen.

The quarantined are held in 3-6 bed wards

On Saturday, Index managed to talk to one of the foreign university students currently in quarantine at the DPC, who told us that on Saturday at dawn, paramedics knocked on their door, made them sign a paper written in Hungarian, and told them to pack their things and get ready to go to the hospital. The student told us that the paramedics did not explain what is happening or what is on the paper they just signed, as they did not speak English well, and the student received no prior notification about the quarantine.

The student told us that quarantined people are placed in hospital rooms with three and six beds. When they asked if they could be isolated from each other as well until their results are ready to prevent further infections, they were told the hospital does not have enough space to do that, so they are putting 2-5 patients in each room. 

The student that tested positive was in a 6-bed ward together with other people under quarantine and was only isolated from the others at 11:00 PM on Saturday.

The student we contacted said that doctors only told them that one person tested positive in the wing where they are held, but they did not reveal who that was and if they were isolated from them yet. The student had contact with the first confirmed coronavirus patient on 2 March, but all will have to remain in quarantine until 21 March. 

Several people held in quarantine complain about a lack of information and that their teachers who also had contact with the infected students were only ordered to isolate themselves in their homes. Those who were in the same ward with the student who tested positive on Saturday are worried that they might have caught the disease as well. Students in quarantine also want to self-isolate in their homes, because they believe it is safer than being held in a room with potentially infected people.

Classmates of infected student were initially denied testing

On Friday, one of the classmates of the first infected student at Semmelweis told index that they called an ambulance with four classmates and two other students of Semmelweis on Wednesday (after the announcement of the first two cases) to take them in for testing to the DPC as they had spent several hours in the same space with the infected student at lectures and seminars, and some of them even started showing symptoms such as coughing and weakness.

Even though the ambulance took them to the DPC, the hospital only took samples from one of the students, others were denied testing as they did not have a fever.

The sampled student's test returned negative according to our information.

Disobeying quarantine orders is a crime

At Saturday's press conference of the government's coronavirus task force, Tibor Lakatos reminded that disobeying quarantine orders is a crime, and if they infect someone, the person disregarding epidemic control regulations could be responsible for severe bodily harm or even manslaughter if the infected dies.

Lakatos brought this up as two Iranian citizens living in Budapest's Corvin District who were found to have close contact with the first Semmelweis patient did not initially submit themselves to the quarantine order. 

According to the government's coronavirus website, the police eventually convinced the young man and woman to take the ambulance to the DPC, they are currently in quarantine.

The coronavirus situation in Hungary

According to the latest update (11:45 AM) of the government coronavirus website,


Confirmed cases in Hungary so far:

  • Hungary announced the first two cases in the country on Wednesday, two Iranian university students studying in Budapest and Gödöllő were infected on their (independent) trips to Iran. The first two patients and their partners are in isolation at the Central Hospital of Southern Pest.
  • Two more confirmed cases were announced on Thursday, one is a 69-year-old British man living in Debrecen who returned from Milan by plane last Friday, the other is the girlfriend of one of the Iranian students.
  • fifth case was announced on Saturday morning, a 70-year-old Hungarian man in poor health tested positive. The sixth patient is the wife of the British patient diagnosed on Thursday. 
  • The seventh person to test positive was another Iranian student who attended a birthday party with one of the first two confirmed coronavirus patients.

On Saturday, the Hungarian government canceled their main event on the March 15th national holiday. The City of Budapest and the opposition parties soon followed suit.

On  Friday, Hungary suspended issuing Visas to citizens of Iran due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. Earlier, the government suspended access to the transit zones on the southern border where asylum-seekers could apply for refugee status.

Neighbouring Serbia also announced their first coronavirus case on Friday, according to Serbian Minister of Health Zlatibor Lončar. The 43-year-old man tested positive on Friday morning after returning to Serbia from a visit to his sister in Budapest, who was exhibiting flu-like symptoms. At the Friday press conference of the Hungarian government's coronavirus task force, Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller commented that the visit happened more than two weeks ago, beyond the known incubation period of the virus, so this case should not be cause for alarm according to her.

Also on Thursday, a group of 15 Japanese tourists were taken from their hotel on Kálvin square in Budapest to the Central Hospital of Southern Pest under suspicion of Covid-19. The tourists were all coughing but otherwise showed no symptoms. As Japanese NHK reports, all their tests returned negative, and they were released from the hospital on Friday night. This was confirmed later at the coronavirus task force's press conference on Saturday.

On Friday morning, a Dutch man walked away from isolation in the medical centre of Budapest's district XVIII. The man who speaks Hungarian well complained about a headache and high fever, doctors previously called an ambulance to take him in for testing and placed him in an isolation room, but after waiting for the ambulance for at least an hour, he walked out. Doctors informed the authorities about the patient that was thought to have escaped, but the man just showed up at the hospital on his own early in the afternoon and was examined and quarantined.

Authorities were also retracing the steps of a group of infected tourists who spent several days in Budapest at the end of February before testing positive for the virus days later in Prague. So far, it seems that they visited a ruin pub, a crepe shop, a pharmacy, and the Széchenyi Thermal Bath.

The first Hungarian citizen to contract Covid-19 was a man who worked on the cruise ship Diamond Princess was confirmed to have the disease at the end of February, he is still being treated in Japan.

(Cover: The Szent László building of the Central Hospital of Southern Pest where Budapest coronavirus patients are treated and suspected cases are isolated. Photo: Google Street View)

Support the independent media!

The English section of Index is financed from donations.