View the Country Report for Hungary in the Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Hungary five times so far, with nearly 1,880,000 confirmed cases resulting in more than 46,000 deaths. The first two registered cases were announced on 4 March 2020, and the first Covid-19-related death on 15 March 2020. During the first wave, from March to June 2020, two different periods can be identified. Between March and April, the number of active cases increased constantly, reached its peak in early May 2020, before declining steadily. This first wave, and the Government response to it, ended in mid-June 2020. By the second half of July, cases had again begun to increase steadily, then increasing more rapidly from August. This second wave saw greater infections but a lower mortality rate as more younger people became infected. Although the second wave lessened after three months, by the end of December 2020 the number of active cases was still higher than in the summer of 2020. In mid-February 2021, due to the arrival of the Alpha variant, the number of cases began to rise again. During the third wave, more people required hospital care than in previous waves. In August 2021, the Delta variant began to spread in Hungary, marking the beginning of the fourth wave. The number of people infected increased significantly and there was a period when more people died of Covid-19 in Hungary than anywhere else in the world. The fourth wave has claimed the lives of 10,000 people. The fifth wave, characterized by the Omicron variant, lasted from January 2022 to the end of February 2022.

In preparation for the pandemic, the Government established an Operational Corps in January 2020. After the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic, and the outbreak of the epidemic in Hungary, on 11 March 2020, on the basis of the Fundamental Law of Hungary, the Government declared a national state of danger. With this declaration, a special legal order came into force across Hungary. General rules of State operation were suspended, and the Government was given the authority to issue special, emergency decrees and introduce extraordinary and extensive measures, including restricting the daily lives of people. Although these measures were relaxed as the first wave subsided, they were reintroduced for the successive waves. Since November 2020, a state of danger has been declared in Hungary.

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