Independent media outlets demand access to Hungarian hospitals

A nurse prepares a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 to be injected at a hospital in Budapest, Hungary, 09 January 2021. [EPA-EFE/Marton Monus]

The government must let journalists access COVID-19 wards in hospitals and vaccination points, as well as allow healthcare workers to freely express their views on conditions in hospitals to the public, a group of 28 independent media outlets have demanded.

While “life-threatening effects of a coronavirus epidemic are best seen within the walls of hospitals,” under the “current rules, doctors and nurses are not free to talk about this in public; while press staff are not allowed into hospitals,” editorial teams wrote in an open letter addressed to decision-makers published on Wednesday (31 March). 

Emphasising the serious consequences of the lack of information, journalists highlighted that the absence of such real-life material leads “many to still downplay the dangers of the epidemic, and fail to comply with protection measures,” which helps the virus spread and exacerbates the pandemic.

Hospitals are for saving people’s lives, not for camera crews to disturb the hard-working professionals in Hungarian healthcare, said Zoltán Kovács, secretary of state for international communication, in reaction to the letter.

Kovács took it to Facebook, saying leftist outlets are spreading fake news and discrediting Hungarian healthcare. “Let them work!” he added. 

(Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | with Telex)

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