Policy responses for Hungary - HSRM


Policy responses for Hungary

1. Preventing transmission

The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.

1.1 Health communication

When COVID-19 appeared in Hungary – on the 4th of March – the Government immediately started to communicate with the public. The provision of information for the frontline health professionals started earlier, after the first cases appeared in Europe. The communication was mostly focused on prevention, the recognition of symptoms and the measures of the Government in both cases. Already in January, a so-called "Operative Corps" was established, jointly led by the Interior Minister (Sándor Pintér) and the Minister of Human Capacities (Miklós Kásler), with representatives of relevant organizations, such as the national chief medical officer of the National Public Health Center (formerly National Public Health and Medical Officer Service). The measures of the Government are mostly announced in regular, daily press conferences of the Operative Corps, except for those with strategic importance, which are communicated directly by the Prime Minister (Viktor Orbán). Most of the information about prevention is spread to the public through several channels, such as TV, radio, internet websites and posters in the form of press conferences, public purpose ads, written recommendations and announcements, using officials and other public figures, such as one of the most popular spokesmen, Pál Györfi of the National Emergency Ambulance Service. In May, the government started a new communication campaign mostly to promote the economic measures of the government, primarily using billboards.

The Operative Corps held their final daily press conference on the 17th of June but the Operative Corps will remain in session. Moreover, an epidemiological deployment unit within the Operative Corps, headed by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, has been established (see Section 5 – Governance for more details).

On the 29th of August, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that a national consultation will be launched about the coronavirus and the measures adopted in the interest of restarting the economy [1].
At the end of August, Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, announced that no one should interact with others if they are ill and display symptoms such as a cough and a temperature in the interest of preventing the spread of the coronavirus [2].

From the 19th of September, the Operative Corps is holding daily press conferences again.

The most important communication channels are the following:

Websites and telephone hotlines:
The website koronavirus.gov.hu was launched to inform the public about all the official information related to the virus. The main page starts with the numbers of two 24-hour phone lines and shows the actual numbers of those infected, healed, deceased, and quarantined. The website also includes infographics, news as well as videos about the virus, prevention and the symptoms in plain language. Beyond that, the website contains governmental measures as well as downloadable information materials (posters, flyers).

Social media:
From the beginning, the Government has used social media as a main channel to communicate. For example, the first measures of the Government were announced on the official Facebook page of the Prime Minister (Viktor Orbán). Additionally, public communications were published on all the frequently used social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube.

TV, Radio:
In addition, TV and radio are used to announce all measures and public communications in order to reach the most vulnerable age group. There is a regular weekly interview with the Prime Minister on the main public service radio channel (Kossuth rádió), which has frequently been used by the Prime Minister as a first line of communication for governmental plans and actual measures regarding the epidemic.

[1] https://www.kormany.hu/en/the-prime-minister/news/national-consultation-to-be-launched
[2] https://www.kormany.hu/en/the-prime-minister/news/no-one-should-interact-with-others-if-they-have-a-cough-and-a-temperature