The coronavirus is presenting challenges for global travel and the governments tasked with dealing with it. But one country in the heart of Europe is taking a proactive approach to combating the deadly disease. Hungary is instituting massive border checks to help contain the spread of coronavirus and prevent the country’s citizens from becoming infected with the disease whose treatment regimen is not exactly fully understood. It might seem like a pretty strong move but authorities feel justified in these precautionary measures.
National Police Force spokesperson Kristof Gal said in a statement to the media about the coronavirus precautions, “The crossings at Ártánd, Csanádpalota, Röszke, Tompa, Udvar, and Letenye are also entry points into the Schengen area. Experience shows that most busses taking Chinese tourists to Hungary cross at these points.”
In addition to increased checks, these border crossings will also have disinfectant and other materials to prevent the spread of disease. Prime Minister of Hungary Gergely Gulyas’s office has even gone so far as to say that Hungary could close itself off from flights originating from China if such a measure makes sense.
The government of Hungary has even gone as far as outlining its plans in a 28-step programme for combating the virus should it arrive in the country. It should be noted that, as of press, Hungary has no confirmed cases of coronavirus. Even so, the Prime Minister’s Office has assured the public that the country’s laboratories and hospitals are ready and that a test to determine if a patient is infected or not could be confirmed within a few hours.
Some of the more salient points of the plan include screening for passengers from China or who have been to the country in the previous 14 days. This includes everyone from travelers to business people to students returning from study abroad programs. The exact procedures for testing and, if necessary, quarantining will also be established by the Ministry of the Interior in the coming days. To assist with this monumental task, Hungary will make use of not only its medical facilities like hospitals but also any medical research centers such as those located at its numerous universities. In total, it is believed that there are some 2,722 Chinese nationals currently living and studying in Hungary. As reports indicate, all Schengen countries have halted visa issuance and acceptance while the members develop a more coordinated strategy for dealing with visitors from abroad. While some might see the actions of the Hungarian officials as a bit premature given that the country still has no confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, many health officials are praising the government for its taking charge of the situation ahead of any crisis – whether it materializes or not. Also, it is expected that more concrete and detailed plans will be developed in the coming weeks which could change depending on the global outlook for the virus which signals that the government’s precautionary approach is also adaptable to changing circumstances on the ground.