Hungary, World’s Worst-Hit Covid Nation, Starts Easing Virus Curbs

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Hungary, the world’s worst-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic, prepared to relax lockdown restrictions after giving a quarter of its citizens at least one dose of a vaccine.

Shops and services can restart from Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a video on Facebook, after reaching the government-assigned threshold of 2.5 million people getting at least one vaccine shot. The premier has argued that this level of vaccination already covers the most vulnerable parts of the population.

But with Hungary suffering the world’s highest number of deaths per capita from Covid-19, doctors in the country of almost 10 million have warned the government against relaxing curbs too early. It’s particularly important to stay vigilant with the more aggressive U.K. variant leading to a spike in the hospitalizations and deaths of younger Hungarians, practitioners say.

After resisting stricter lockdown measures during an autumn surge in the virus, Orban shifted his focus to ramping up vaccinations at the end of last year, including by skirting European Union regulators to deploy Russian- and Chinese-made shots.

Now Hungary has immunized the second biggest portion of its population in the EU after Malta.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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