Due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the neighbouring countries, elevated caution is necessary when travelling abroad. Therefore, Dr. Béla Merkely, Rector has ordered mandatory and free PCR screening for university employees upon returning home from abroad. In addition, the Rector recommends that everybody spend their holiday without crossing the borders. As part of the precautionary measures there is a full ban at the university’s clinical departments and the directors of the medical institutions may grant permission to relatives to visit only under conditions defined by the Clinical Centre and only in certain cases.  

“Currently, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the neighbouring countries, in Ukraine, Serbia, Romania and Croatia has once again reached or even exceeded the levels experienced previously. Therefore, increased precaution is needed in order to prevent the virus from entering Hungary from abroad.”, said Dr. Béla Merkely.

In order to protect the employees, students and patients of the university, the Rector ordered mandatory and free PCR testing for its employees returning home from abroad. If someone spent only a day abroad, the testing should be performed at least 72 hours after returning. In case of a longer stay, testing can be done on the day after arrival.

Staying in certain countries poses a high risk due to the local epidemic, therefore employees returning home from these countries need to have two negative PCR test results that are taken at least 48 hours apart. Currently such countries are all the countries outside the European Union and Sweden, Estonia, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia within the European Union.

The PCR test can be requested by the employer of the university worker through the Clinical Centre. Until receiving the test results, the employee who has returned home from abroad may enter the premises of the university depending on the current epidemiological situation. If the employer grants permission to work on the university premises, the employer may only return to work at the university with continuous and standard use of a face mask until the results of the PCR test. The Rector asks university staff not to travel or to minimize their stay abroad and spend their holidays in Hungary this year.

As part of the precautionary measures aiming to avoid an increase in the number of cases over the summer, there is a full ban on visiting Semmelweis University’s patient care units to protect the patients. The directors of the clinical departments of Semmelweis University may individually grant permission to relatives to visit patients, who have been in the departments of the university for a long time and are in severe conditions but are not treated for COVID-19 infection. Visits are only possible with the appropriate protective equipment. At the paediatric departments only one parent can be with the child using the appropriate protective equipment.

“In contrast to Hungary, where a representative survey was conducted under the leadership of Semmelweis University, the number of cases is increasing in the countries, where restrictions were lifted without performing comprehensive screenings of the population. In order to avoid the increase in the number of cases over the summer, it is important to prevent the virus from entering Hungary, which could be brought in by those returning home. Politely keeping your distance, avoiding events in enclosed spaces and following the rules of hand hygiene are also very important in maintaining Hungary’s favourable position in the epidemiological situation.”, said Dr. Béla Merkely.

Pálma Dobozi
Photo (illustration): Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Ágnes Raubinek