Hungary starts coronavirus screening of representative sample

In Budapest

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Hungary will start testing a representative sample of almost 18,000 people across the country for the novel coronavirus on Friday to gain a better picture of infection rates, including asymptomatic carriers, and immunity, Dr. Béla Merkely, the rector of Semmelweis University, said on Tuesday, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

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Semmelweis University is heading the screening program, assisted by the countryʼs other three medical schools - in Debrecen, Szeged, and Pécs - and supported by the Innovation and Technology Ministry, he said.

More than 1,000 healthcare professionals will conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to detect the genetic presence of the virus as well as draw blood to test for coronavirus antibodies.

Test subjects over the age of 14 who have been picked by the Central Statistical Office (KSH) will be invited to participate in the screening. The participation rate is expected to be around 70%, Dr. Merkely said.

The screening will take place between May 1 and May 14, with results expected to be announced at the end of the month.

At least two more nationwide screenings will follow, staggered by a period of a month or more.

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