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Jakarta Post

Foreigners, migration to blame for coronavirus spread: Hungary PM

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

Budapest, Hungary   /   Fri, March 13, 2020   /   07:03 pm
Foreigners, migration to blame for coronavirus spread: Hungary PM A worker screens the temperature of passengers arriving from Italy at Debrecen International Airport in Debrecen, Hungary, on Feb. 24, 2020. (Bloomberg/Akos Stiller)

Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Friday that foreigners and migration are to blame for the appearance and spread of coronavirus in Hungary. 

Asked during a radio interview why Hungary has closed its universities but not schools in response to the virus outbreak, Orban said it was because "there are lots of foreigners there".

"Our experience is that primarily foreigners brought in the disease, and that it is spreading among foreigners," he said.

So far, Hungary has confirmed 19 cases of infections, nine of them Iranians (mostly university scholarship-holders), one British national, and the rest Hungarians.

"It's no coincidence that the virus first showed up among Iranians," he said.

"We cannot separate the tens of thousands of foreign students (in Hungary) from the Hungarian students, that's why we thought it best to stop all visits to those institutions," he said. 

In Hungarian-language messages posted on its Facebook page the government has warned Iranians of detention and deportation if they don't cooperate with disease control authorities.

Last week after the first infections were confirmed -- two Iranian students -- Budapest suspended the issuing of visas to Iranian citizens.

Earlier March Hungary barred the doors indefinitely to its border camps for asylum-seekers as it said refugees and migrants arriving there may have been in virus hotspot Iran.

Government officials and pro-Orban media have also drawn a link between the virus outbreak and migration.

"We are fighting a two-front war, one front is called migration, and the other one belongs to the coronavirus, there is a logical connection between the two, as both spread with movement," Orban said Friday.