BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – More than two dozen Hungarian media outlets sent an open letter to the government on Wednesday, demanding greater transparency and access to hospitals for journalists following the COVID-19 epidemic.
Only Hungarian state-owned LMs have been allowed to enter COVID wards, and journalists have complained that the government’s decision to ban medical staff from speaking to reporters has made it impossible to report deteriorating conditions inside hospitals, creating a false picture of the severity of the situation.
“Doctors and nurses are not allowed to speak in public, and members of the press are not allowed to enter hospitals, so we are unable to report what is happening there,” the letter said.
A total of 28 media outlets demanded that journalists be allowed to report on the condition of COVID-19 wards, that medical staff who were not allowed to speak to the media by ministerial decision were allowed to give interviews.
“As people are disconnected from this information, many are still underestimating the risks of the epidemic, not taking protective measures that lead to more disease, and thus exacerbating the epidemic,” the letter said.
One of the signatories of the letter, Victoria Serdult, a correspondent for HVG, an online retailer, told the Associated Press that access to such information was “a fundamental right for all; it can save lives.”
“It is not our job to create panic, but the lack of information can have serious consequences,” Serdult said.
The devastating wave of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations in Hungary has put its underperforming hospitals under an unprecedented burden. As a proportion of the population, more COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in Hungary than in any of the other 26 EU countries except Bulgaria.
According to Hopkins University, Hungary continues to have the highest weekly mortality rate in the world, according to Hopkins University.
The merchants also asked to be included in the virtual press briefings of the Hungarian Emergency Situations Commission, in person or in person, which, according to them, are pre-sent questions and do not provide clarifications.
“I wonder why they did not introduce a system that would allow journalists to participate in these events online,” Serdult said.
In response to the letter, government spokesman Oltan Kovacs wrote on Facebook that “we should treat patients instead of using cameras”, accusing “left-wing portals” of spreading false news and “discrediting the healthcare system”. »
Even as epidemics continue to deteriorate, Hungary has launched one of the most successful vaccination campaigns in Europe. The number of vaccines broke the 2 million mark on Tuesday, representing more than 20% of the population.
Foreign Minister Peter Sizharto announced on Wednesday that another quarter of a million doses of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V had arrived in the capital, Budapest, overnight.
According to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Hungary has the highest per capita vaccination rate in the European Union.