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Orban Announces Extension Of Coronavirus Curbs In Hungary Until February 1

A man interacts with his wife behind a plexiglass wall that allows families to give hugs without risk of contamination or transmission of COVID-19 at the Gottsegen National Cardiovascular Center in Budapest. (file photo)

BUDAPEST -- Hungary has extended partial lockdown measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus until February 1.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban made the announcement on January 8, telling state radio: "As long as there are not enough vaccines, we will stick to the restrictions we have."

The restrictions include a curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., a ban on gatherings, and the closure of hotels and restaurants, except for takeaway meals.

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Primary schools and kindergartens will remain open, while digital learning in secondary schools and universities will continue.

The lockdown measures were introduced as part of a state of emergency put in place in November as the pandemic surged again across Hungary.

The country on January 8 reported 2,907 new infections and 115 new deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the country's overall death toll to 10,440.

The number of coronavirus patients in hospitals reached nearly 5,300.

Orban, who faces the biggest challenge of his decade-long rule with the epidemic and the recession it has caused, said an economic rebound this year would depend on how quickly Hungary could vaccinate its population.

The prime minister said Hungary had received 80,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine and that more than 42,000 health-care workers had already received it.

Criticizing the European Union's procurement of vaccines, he praised Britain, which went its own way.

"The British, instead of letting Brussels do it, negotiated themselves and are in a much better state now," according to Orban.

Hungary has participated in Russia's testing efforts and was an early recipient of small batches of its Sputnik-V vaccine. The government is also in talks with China and Israel to get vaccines.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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