March 13, 2020 / 9:13 PM / in 25 days

Hungary will close all schools to slow coronavirus - prime minister

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary will close all schools and continue education as best as it can via digital channels from Monday as it tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a Facebook video on Friday.

Orban said he expected the Hungarian economy to stall soon and it will have to be restarted, an effort that the government will participate in, he added.

The government has set up a research group to try and develop a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus, he said, adding that the healthcare system had ample supplies and instruments to fight the epidemic.

Opposition groups and doctors have warned that the healthcare system might be dangerously overstretched in case of a big spike in infections.

“We have the technical capability to handle several tens of thousands of cases, and we decided to get more equipment,” Orban said.

Hungary has added Israel to the list of countries it does not allow inbound travel from, in addition to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.

The education system, which until now was open except for universities, will begin a new, digital regime as of Monday, Orban said. All teaching will be done online and students will be forbidden from entering schools.

He did not say how long the measures will stay in place but said it would probably be “months, not weeks.”

Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang

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