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Hungary To Prolong COVID-19 Restrictions As Infections Hit Record

Hungarian soldiers wearing hazmat suits prepare to disinfect a kindergarten and elementary school in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Budapest on March 17.

BUDAPEST -- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has warned that tough restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the country will be extended next week with the number of daily coronavirus cases and the death toll hitting new records.

Earlier this month, the government ordered all shops except food stores, pharmacies, and gas stations to close until March 22.

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Speaking on state radio on March 19, Orban said that with Hungary's daily coronavirus infections surpassing 10,000, the measures would be extended for one week.

Kindergartens and primary schools have been closed for a month until the end of the Easter break on April 7.

Hungarian authorities on March 19 reported 10,759 new infections over the past day, with 213 coronavirus-related deaths.

Vaccinations in the country of 10 million reached nearly 1.5 million people.

More than 10,000 COVID-19 patients are currently being treated in hospitals, but Orban said that Hungary’s health-care system was managing to cope with the wave of infections.

He also said that Hungary could start easing restrictions once a further 1 million citizens have been vaccinated.

The prime minister also defended Hungary's use of Russia's Sputnik V and China's Sinopharm vaccines. Hungary was the first European Union member country to authorize and deploy the two shots.

Last week, a senior official with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) warned European Union members to hold off from giving national authorization for Sputnik V until the agency finishes its safety review.

With reporting by Reuters
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