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We have organised containment effort on four fronts; further small businesses granted tax exemption

Among areas falling within scope of ‘kata’ exemption, the Prime Minister mentioned hairdressers, beauticians, decorators, glaziers, electricians, other human health care service providers, performing artists, plumbers, gas and heating technicians, carpenters, those working in inpatient care, floor and wall tilers, personal trainers, persons engaged in other sporting activities, and those catering for the needs of the elderly and persons with disabilities. The full list will be published in a decree to be released in the evening.

Mr Orbán also said they are authorising the deferment of ‘kata’ debts incurred before 1 March; taxpayers in arrears with such payment liabilities will be required to pay these debts in the quarter following the end of the state of danger.

As part of the measures, similar to tourism and catering, Hungarian media providers will also be granted exemption due to their lost advertising revenues.

A decision has been made about the suspension of evictions, confiscations and tax-related executions; existing tax debts will have to be paid after the end of the state of danger.

The various maternity entitlements expiring during the state of danger will be extended; mothers will be kept in their present status for the duration of the state of danger.

He stressed that these measures serve to protect the jobs of Hungarians. Those who do lose their jobs must be helped to find new ones within the shortest possible time, he said, observing that they had succeeding in doing that once before, after 2010. “We will get back up on our feet again.”

Mr Orbán highlighted that the government had organised the containment effort against the coronavirus epidemic on four fronts; “we must stand our ground on four fronts all at once”, including military, police, health care and economic containment measures.

He said from the phase of group incidences “we are fast approaching the phase of mass incidences,” stating that at present there are 167 confirmed patients in the country. However, regarding the actual number of infected persons, there are only estimates which vary greatly. At the same time, the number of actual infected persons is evidently much higher than 167, he added.

One hundred and eight of the 167 patients are so-called virus carriers, meaning that they carry the virus, but are not ill. 27 of them are displaying symptoms; they are the ones who are most likely to recover from the disease. Nine patients are gravely ill, in need of intensive care. The number of fatalities stands at 7; 5 of them suffered from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, one of them was a cancer patient, while another one suffered from colopathy. The average age of the deceased is 69 years, he said.

As part of his announcement, the Prime Minister said from Tuesday morning all physicians and nurses working in intensive care units will be supplied with special face masks. Other physicians and nursing staff working in hospitals in non-intensive care will receive surgical face masks. Anyone taken to hospital due to suspected coronavirus infection will be immediately supplied with a surgical mask. As we should expect a long containment period, the Prime Minister asked those concerned to manage stocks in a disciplined manner.

Outlining health care data, he reported that there are 1.5 million medical face masks; at present, 25,000 are being manufactured daily, but this week this number will increase to 80,000 daily. There are 129,000 special face masks, 20 million pairs of rubber gloves, 170,000 protective gowns, and 2,560 ventilators. Supplies can be procured from the East; the country has reserved enormous quantities; consignments are arriving on an ongoing basis; they are expecting more than 10 planes of supplies, he said.

Hospital capacities are as follows, he listed: the number of hospital beds stands at 66,906, the number of physicians under the age of 65 is 19,431, the number of residents is 4,312, while there are 900 medical students in the last year of their training. As a result, 24,643 persons are able to serve as doctors. The number of health care workers under the age of 65 stands at 105,000.

Regarding the police as part of the containment effort, the Prime Minister said there are 70,275 deployable police personnel aged under 65, while there are a further 46,573 volunteers, including neighbourhood watch personnel.

Soldiers, including 23,950 career soldiers, 9,381 reservists and 10,649 officers released from duty in the past five years, are taking part in border controls at an elevated level, are preparing for cooperation with the police for the event that they should be required to provide patrolling services, and are also standing by to assist vital companies in Hungary.

In total, the government is able to rely on 139,684 persons for law enforcement purposes. They are responsible for checking compliance with quarantine orders, and if more stringent curfew regulations are introduced, they will be required to enforce them, he said.

He further confirmed that non-Hungarian nationals returning home may transit the country via humanitarian corridors. “Even under such circumstances, we must remain humane; we want to make our neighbours our friends,” he said.

In conclusion, Mr Orbán said the period ahead will be difficult, and will demand personal efforts on everyone’s part. But we must make those efforts because “we can save human lives now”.

“The more of us that cooperate, the more lives we will be able to save. We are being faced with a task that no one can resolve on their own. Everyone shares responsibility, […] instead of dissension and disputes, the time has come for standing together,” he said, adding that he will ask Members of Parliament to do just that.