Hungary will close its borders to foreign nationals from Tuesday, September 1, due to a rise in cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The government's decision makes Hungary the first country in Europe's free movement Schengen zone to reimplement strict border controls after borders largely reopened in the past few months following the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials have said that a corridor will be maintained to allow transit through the country, and there will be certain exemptions to the ban, including for diplomatic personnel and other official visits. Hungarian nationals returning home from abroad will be required to either quarantine or produce two negative COVID-19 tests. The border closure will reportedly stay in place for at least a month. During this period officials are advising Hungarian nationals not to travel outside the country.
The decision to reintroduce border control comes after a record daily number of COVID-19 cases of 292 was reported on Sunday, August 30, with a further 178 cases reported on Monday, August 31. As of August 31, health authorities have confirmed 5961 COVID-19 cases with 614 associated deaths in the country. Further spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
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