As the second coronavirus wave bites, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban — who shut the borders in September — is holding back on tougher measures such as a lockdown, despite growing criticism of his response. During the first wave, the Central European EU member had relatively low numbers of infections and deaths from the virus compared with most European countries. But in October more Hungarians have died than in the previous four months put together. And seven-day rolling average data from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) show that on October 19 Hungary had the third-highest Covid-19 death rate per million in the bloc — behind the Czech Republic and Romania. A shift in government policy as well as a complacent population are to blame, according to experts. “After the initial fright, a second wave did not provoke fear in the population, so we were much less disciplined,” a Budapest medical university chief, Bela Merkely, told local media last week. Orban’s critics say the government’s messaging over the summer was not strict enough on issues such as mask wearing, avoiding large gatherings and travel abroad.