Hungary's daily COVID cases could reach 30,000 -minister

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Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Budapest

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's daily tally of new COVID-19 cases could reach 30,000 in the next one to two weeks, up from about 20,000 this week, a government minister said on Saturday.

Miklos Kasler, minister for human resources, blamed the Omicron variant for the rise. In a Facebook video, he said the variant was causing less severe illness, but the third of Hungarians not vaccinated were at higher risk.

Just over 6 million of Hungary's 10 million people have received at least two shots, and nearly 3.6 million have also received a booster, but the country's vaccination rate lags western European levels.

Hungary is now offering shots to anyone, without prior registration, as well as booster shots to children aged 12-17.

The government announced on Jan 13 that a fourth COVID-19 shot is available to people who ask for it, after a consultation with a doctor.

Hungary has made booster shots mandatory for healthcare workers, and vaccinations mandatory for all teachers. Protective masks have been required in most indoor places since late November.

(Reporting by Anita Komuves; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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