The 35th Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring will be organized under strict epidemic preparedness, where the healthcare professionals of Semmelweis University will be responsible for ensuring adherence to the epidemiological protocol. Details on the event were released by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology on 4th June.

The scenario of this year’s Formula One has been rewritten by the coronavirus pandemic; the Hungarian Grand Prix will be organized on 17th-19th July behind closed gates with a reduced number of professional staff and under strict security measures. Semmelweis University is given a key role in setting up the necessary healthcare support and appropriate epidemiological control. The development of the epidemiological protocol, the procurement of the proper hygiene products, disinfectants and protective equipment are done based on the university’s guidelines. Semmelweis University will be responsible for monitoring the use of face masks which is obligatory for everyone, including the most famous sportsmen. In addition, university staff will be in charge of checking the participants’ health condition, taking their temperature as well as running the screening points and the isolation rooms.

“The university’s healthcare staff have great experience in taking part in large scale events and projects. In 2017, Semmelweis University provided health care services for the FINA World Championship and the H-UNCOVER coronavirus screening project was a great opportunity to learn how to safely take and analyse samples basically anywhere. The on-site medical staff will be tested for coronavirus beforehand and they will be provided with appropriate protective equipment.”, said Dr. Béla Merkely, Rector of Semmelweis University.

Based on the preliminary results of the representative screening programme, the prevalence of COVID-19 infections is very low in Hungary. According to the Rector, professional sportsmen need special attention, as many of them may be asymptomatic carriers of the virus due to their age and good general condition and some may go through the disease without noticing it. At the same time, Semmelweis University has its tools to avoid contamination among the sportsmen.

“The active virus can be detected within fifty minutes in the on-site laboratories and the medical staff backed by the university will be able to perform about two thousand tests in a few hours and publish the results in 8 hours. In case of a positive sample, immediate isolation is required.”, Dr. Béla Merkely said.

According to Dr. László Palkovics, Minister of Innovation and Technology, Government Commissioner for the Development of Motor Motorsports and Priority Management of Traffic Safety, the Ministry of Innovation and Technology has taken over the development of domestic motorsports, for example by helping to manage the renovation of the Hungaroring.

“The Ministry keeps consulting with Liberty Media, stakeholder of the commercial rights of Formula One and the Hungaroring in order to ensure the seamless organization of this year’s race. Its innovative feature is the involvement of Hungary’s number one medical university to provide medical background for the event.”, Dr. László Palkovics said.

The minister talked about the downloadable virus radar application which shows the owner’s close contacts in the previous period, so the spread of the virus can be assessed, which also helps contact research in the event of infection.

Based on the regulations of the organizers, all team members must have a negative PCR test result for the coronavirus upon entering the country. According to Zsolt Gyulay, President and CEO of Hungaroring Sport Zrt., the teams take the regulations very strictly, but the epidemic situation is better in Hungary than in some countries the teams come from. Container cities will be built in order to ensure the isolation of the participants and spectators will be kept out of the race’s premises with the involvement of the police.

There will be a medical centre at the Hungaroring, which will provide general health care services for the teams and participants and the Hungarian Army Medical Centre will provide patient care in case of accidents.

Orsolya Dávid
Illustration:, MTI
Translation: Ágnes Raubinek