Hungary makes booster COVID-19 shot mandatory for healthcare staff

Healthcare worker Adrienne Kertesz, receives the first injection nationwide, with a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Del-Pest Central Hospital as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues, in Budapest, Hungary, December 26, 2020. Szilard Koszticsak/Pool via REUTERS

BUDAPEST, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Hungary will make a third, booster shot against COVID-19 mandatory for all healthcare workers and will require protective mask wearing in most closed places from Saturday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff said on Thursday.

Gergely Gulyas also told a government briefing that only vaccines can provide protection against the coronavirus as case numbers are rising.

"The government's advice is that everyone should get a booster shot, which is possible to get four months after the second dose," Gulyas said.

Hungary reported 10,767 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, its highest daily tally since the end of March, and 131 people died of the virus the previous day.

The daily number of new infections is getting close to the peak of 11,265 reached during the third wave of the pandemic.

Hungary has hardly any restrictions in place and the vaccination rate is below the European Union average.

The steady rise in new COVID-19 infections prompted the Hungarian Medical Chamber to call on Wednesday for strict measures.

The chamber called for a ban on mass events and mandatory mask wearing in closed spaces and said that entry to restaurants, theatres and cinemas should be conditional on a COVID-19 immunity certificate. read more

Reporting by Krisztina Than and Anita Komuves; Editing by Timothy Heritage

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