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May 15, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

Operational Group: Coronavirus is still present, but there is reason for hope

The State Secretary for Tax Affairs attended today’s Coronavirus Operational Group press conference to speak about the tax simplification and tax return measures. Meanwhile, the chief medical officer drew attention to the current presence of the coronavirus and declining numbers.

At today’s Operational Group presser, Norbert Izer, State Secretary for Tax Affairs at the Ministry of Finance, spoke about the significant tax simplifications the government has instituted. He also announced that VAT refund payments will be significantly faster.

The state secretary noted that the measure also applies to tax returns filed on April 20. About HUF 80 billion worth of VAT has already been returned to SMEs. The government has also postponed the deadline for annual tax returns from September 30 to May 31, helping out hundreds of thousands of companies and tens of thousands of accountants. The subsequent later payment of the five types of taxes concerned – corporate tax, small business tax, income tax on energy suppliers, local business tax and innovation tax – will provide companies with additional liquidity of HUF 200 billion over four months, the Secretary of State indicated.

Chief Medical Officer Cecília Müller reported that the number of people who are fully recovered from the coronavirus is gradually increasing and now stands at nearly 1,300. The number of active infections fell below 1,700, and there are currently 614 patients hospitalized with the coronavirus. Of those actively infected, 58 percent are in Budapest and Pest County, but this number is also on a downward trend, said Müller.

As the epidemic situation improves, it will be possible to further expand regular healthcare services, the CMO said. The process of returning to normal healthcare services began on May 4, and occasional screenings will start on May 18, Müller announced. The chief medical officer said that planned, non-emergency surgeries can be performed via inpatient care starting on Monday, as well as curative care services. Müller said that patients must still make an appointment with doctors by phone. Today, Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler informed all heads of medical institutions as to what healthcare services they can restart.

One-third of the beds reserved for the care of coronavirus patients have been released, but beds in intensive care units need to be maintained, Müller added.

The chief medical officer drew attention to the continued presence of the coronavirus, noting that despite the downward trend, there are still new patients. Epidemiological preparedness must thus continue to be maintained in order to provide adequate care for patients with COVID-19, the CMO said.

For all normal healthcare procedures, if no coronavirus infection is suspected, no laboratory testing is required and doctors can perform the required procedure on the patient, said Müller. She also stated that more than 50 percent of deaths in Hungary are caused by cardiovascular disease, so efforts should be made to restore care for such patients as soon as possible. 

Regarding helpline workers, the chief medical officer said that their work in healthcare also deserves recognition and thanked them for their hard work. 

Lieutenant Colonel of the Police Róbert Kiss was also present and said that 641 people have already chosen to be monitored electronically while in compulsory home quarantine; there are currently 10,954 official home quarantines. Kiss also reported that 445 people have been prosecuted for violating the movement restrictions. In the countryside, police had to take 19 actions in one day for the violation of protection measures. The lieutenant colonel further said that they are investigating 90 cases involving the spread of fake news.