Higher education and the clinical centres are prepared to carry out their tasks related to the coronavirus infection, said the Parliamentary and Strategic State Secretary of the Ministry for Innovation and Technology at a press conference on 2 February in Budapest. Tamás Schanda said that universities provide information to their citizens about the symptoms of the infection in Hungarian, English, German and Chinese, and use questionnaires to filter out students of higher risk of infection.
The State Secretary said that the fears are not unfounded but there is no reason to panic. In fact, no disease has been registered in Hungary yet, and the government that considers the safety of the Hungarian people most important, is prepared for protection. Within this framework, the Ministry of Innovation responsible for higher education is in constant consultation with the universities, in particular with the medical faculties that also operate clinics. Students who pose a risk according to the questionnaires are exempted from attending the classes for the incubation period, which is 14 days, but this has not been necessary so far, said Tamás Schanda, adding that higher education institutions are in contact with the authorities.
József Bódis, State Secretary for Higher Education, Innovation and Vocational Training said at the press conference that besides the coronavirus, a "panic epidemic" has appeared in the world. The latter is reinforced by the fact that common cold infections producing symptoms similar to the coronavirus are very common at this time of the year.
To describe the effectiveness of the university network in Pécs, he mentioned that a member of a married couple coming home from Wuhan showed symptoms of the common cold but within 3 hours a university virus laboratory in Pécs, unique in Central Europe, found them to be free of coronavirus infection. He also reported that during his discussion with the chief medical officer it incurred that, if necessary, university students at the border inspection posts could help screen the infected by measuring their body temperature. József Bódis finally emphasized that besides the short-term tasks, it is a long-term task to develop a vaccine. All the resources are available for this in the Hungarian higher education - said the State Secretary.
It was also said at the press conference that 2,772 Chinese students are studying at Hungarian higher education institutions. The University of Pécs is committed to the health and safety of the university citizens and the population. Accordingly, they continuously monitor international and national professional recommendations on the coronavirus and consult with the competent authorities. In addition, the UP has set up an operational professional team with the involvement of the relevant professions, so that they can take the appropriate action quickly and efficiently. However, it is important to emphasize that the university is not aware of any affected patients or suspected cases.
The UP shall continue to act with the utmost care and in accordance with the professional guidance of the competent authorities, the university contacted all Chinese students electronically. The preliminary internal survey showed that most students are definitely not affected, as they either stayed in Hungary during the exam period or did not leave Europe after the exam period even if they travelled.
Students who travelled to China during the break will, upon their return, complete a questionnaire prepared by the authority for this purpose in accordance with the protocol of the National Center for Public Health. After evaluating these, the UP Clinical Center will be able to conduct further examinations immediately if necessary. If any of the students who returned home from China had symptoms of the disease, they would also be able to ensure the patient's isolation at the Department of Emergency Medicine and to arrange the patient’s care safely in accordance with the protocol.
The UP places great emphasis on prevention: they call attention to it in Hungarian, English and Chinese in public spaces and place hand disinfectants on the campus, while in the restrooms they provide information on proper hand washing and hygienic hand disinfection according to WHO guidelines.