With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Poland recently hitting 18, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki decided on Tuesday to cancel all mass events in the country, among other preventive measures undertaken to contain the virus.
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“The spreading coronavirus epidemic is a real global threat… We want to undertake the largest number of preventive actions possible,” said Prime Minister Morawiecki, citing soring numbers of the coronavirus cases in Spain, Italy and France.
Having “prevention before treatment” as its guideline, the government has been “taking decisions aimed at the limitation of the spreading of the coronavirus,” Mr Morawiecki said.
“We have decided to cancel all mass events …” the Prime Minister stated, adding that the government “will pass down the information onto provincial governors… Following the Main Sanitary Inspectorate’s [GIS] recommendation... just like France and Germany did… so we have decided to cancel all mass events in line with pertinent resolutions.”
What is a mass event?
A mass event has differing definitions in Polish law. It can be categorised as either an artistic-entertainment event or a mass sports event.
An artistic-entertainment event is understood as one taking place at sports arenas or in locations other than a building that allows for the carrying out of an event gathering at least 1,000 participants.
An artistic-entertainment event can also be organised at a sports hall or inside a building allowing for the organisation of an event for at least 500 participants.
Another mass event category is the mass sports event which involves sports competition and may be carried out at a sports arena or another non-building location that allows for the participation of at least 1,000 people. A mass sports event can be also carried out inside an enclosed space that allows for the participation of at least 300 people.
Mr Morawiecki also appealed to citizens saying that “the steepness of the upward curve of the infections depends on us. We need to avoid large gatherings... Let me remind you that already a couple of hundreds of people were hospitalised in Poland.”
Situation in Poland better than in other countries
For his part, Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski said that “the WHO recommends radical measures. Citing [WHO Secretary-General] Tedros Adhanom, we must never give up. That can be achieved only when radical measures are undertaken. Half measures will leave open windows for the coronavirus.”
“Our situation is better because we have 18 cases in Poland while in other countries the spike in the number is considerable,” said Mr Szumowski, adding that “if we introduce appropriate measures, we have a chance of containing the virus. Let’s do everything to slow down its spreading.”
Mr Szumowski also said that “the condition of patients has not changed since yesterday. I appeal to all elderly people and their relatives to stick to safety measures. Elderly people are those the most affected by the virus. As you have heard, the situation in other EU states is dramatic.”
Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said that “since yesterday, sanitary controls apply in 5 places on Polish borders. A couple of instances of people having high temperature were reported. Polish-Belarussian and Polish-Russian border crossings have sanitary controls. Sanitary controls are to be introduced at the Polish-Lithuania border crossings... Intercity railway operator has already introduced sanitary controls.”
Asked about the control procedures, Mr Kamiński said that “people crossing borders fill in Traveller Forms including information about their destination and other requested data… In case someone is diagnosed as infected, we are able to acquire information about all the people who have been travelling with him or her.”
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Representing the academia, Higher Education Minister Jarosław Gowin said that “due to the scientists’ international mobility, they are exposed to the risk of contraction of the coronavirus. We have launched a team that monitors the coronavirus situation among scientists and students. No case of the coronavirus in the academia environment has been reported. I have recommended suspending scientific conferences abroad [organised by Poles] and in Poland. I want to oblige university authorities to move to online education and e-learning. Such a resolution might be necessary.”
Education Minister Dariusz Piontkowski said that “it turned out that a number of schools suspended their classes over the fear that pupils might have had contact with an infected individual. Following safety procedures, these fears were dispelled and a number of schools returned to their ordinary agendas.”
Mr Piątkowski added that “for now the closing of schools should be carried out only where the threat of coronavirus was proven real.”
Sports Minister recommends cancellation of all sports events
Poland’s Sports Minister Danuta Dmowska-Andrzejuk recommended the cancellation of all sports events in Poland regardless of their scope and number of participants.
“We recommend that all sports events, not just the mass ones but also those of lesser scope, be cancelled because the health of sportspersons is the most important,” said Ms Dmowska-Andrzejuk.
The head of the Polish Olympic Committee (PKOI) Andrzej Kraśnicki expressed the organisation’s intention to approach the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with a motion to change the system used to qualify sportspersons for the prospective 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“We will approach the IOC asking it to create, together with sports federations, conditions that would allow for [Olympics] qualifications to take place in the given situation,” said Mr Kraśnicki.