Prime Minister Viktor Orbаn said the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients in Hungary could reach 15,000-20,000 in a weekly interview on public radio on Friday, according to a report by state news wire MTI. After an early morning meeting of the Operative Corps, the body coordinating Hungary’s response to the pandemic, Orbаn told Kossuth Rаdiо that the number of COVID patients in hospital now stands at 6,867.

That number will rise. It could increase to somewhere around 15,000 or even to 20,000, he said.

Orban said experts are working on mobilizing healthcare workers to manage that increase, adding that residents, medical students at the end of their training, and private healthcare professionals could be involved. “There will be enough beds, there will be enough ventilators and there will be enough people, too,” he said.

On Thursday, the government said all businesses with the exception of supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, and healthcare providers would close from March 8 until March 22 to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Orban said shops that sell equipment “necessary for spring gardening” will also remain open. He added that flower shops would be allowed to open on Monday, March 8, for International Women’s Day, but would have to close after that.

He noted that wage subsidies and payroll tax relief that have been available to hotel and catering companies would be expanded to all businesses impacted by the two-week closure. Those subsidies will cover the full month of March, he added. Orban said the vaccination rollout in Hungary is “progressing well”, adding that the number of Hungarians inoculated against COVID-19 is set to reach 2,400,000 by the first week of April, 4,700,000 by early May, and will stand over 8,000,000 by early July. He said 2,813,668 people have registered to be vaccinated.

He said deliveries to Hungary of China’s Sinopharm vaccine are on time “without exception” and the Russians are “essentially” sticking to their schedule for shipping the Sputnik V vaccine, but the timing of shipments of vaccine Hungary has procured in a joint European Union order is “unreliable” and “tragic”.