Poland is reportedly setting up its first makeshift hospitals to treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients, as the fast-rising second wave of infections is threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system, news website Wirtualna Polska and private broadcaster TVN24 said on October 18.
The hospitals are the government’s response to the ongoing spike in coronavirus infections and deaths since the beginning of October. The official number of new daily cases soared to nearly 10,000 on Saturday, falling only slightly to just over 8,500 on Sunday, albeit with the number of tests at only 37,200.
Following lockdown in March and April, Poland gradually eased most restrictions since May and re-opened schools in September. The government has been criticised for inconsistent messaging about coronavirus safety that led to people ignoring key precautions such as wearing face masks or social distancing.
The government is also being rapped for failing to prepare for the autumn surge in infections, which experts had said was a very real possibility.
The growing number of coronavirus patients is now pushing Poland’s hospitals fast towards being overwhelmed.
Officially, only around half of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and half of ventilators beds were in use as of Sunday. But in the provinces with the most cases, such as Warsaw and Krakow, doctors have been reporting shortages.
The first makeshift hospital is being set up at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Wirtualna Polska reported. It will have 500 beds and – ominously – cold rooms, the news website said. More hospitals are reportedly in the pipeline in provincial capitals.
Poland recorded 49 COVID-19 deaths on Sunday and 601 in the past week, according to data from the health ministry. All told, the country has recorded 175,766 coronavirus cases, including 3,573 deaths.