Responsibility is key: health minister about COVID-19 pandemic

In an interview with the “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” daily, Łukasz Szumowski, the Polish Health Minister commented on the current situation with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Poland and problems with healthcare.

COVID-19 cases in Poland spike to 2,946

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Poland has increased by 392 and reached 2,946, the Health Ministry stated on Thursday evening.

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“The number of those infected is lower than we have estimated. This is good news,” the minister said. He stressed that Poland has 10,000 ventilators, the capacity of the infectious disease hospitals also is around 7,000 with potential to 10,000.

However, the minister stressed that the main concern of the medical services is preparation for the number of patients, which is still unknown and hard to predict.

He also added that treating the patients with the coronavirus will “undoubtedly” influence those with other kinds of illnesses. “I requested provincial governors not to delegate employees from oncological hospitals to infectious disease facilities. The oncological hospitals should be ‘pure,’ no patients with COVID-19 should appear there,” he said.

As the minister said, one of the most important tasks – not only for Poland – is to secure the medical staff from infection. “If we do not follow the basic security rules, the medical staff will be endangered and we will suffer from the lack of such personnel. This is why we build isolation facilities at the hospitals, so that patients can wait there for the results of the tests, we also want to establish special hotels for the medical staff,” Mr Szumowski said.

New, stricter coronavirus-lockdown rules come into force

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The minister also referred to the criticism from some of the doctors, who say that they are being treated unfairly, like in situations that they are not allowed to work in several facilities, they are transferred from place to place or have to work in a situation when they have young children who need to stay home because of school closures.

“We did not issue a ban on working in a few places, but we appeal not to do so in order to protect the health of doctors, other medical staff and the patients,” the minister said.

He added that due to the pandemic, some extraordinary measures have to be imposed. “If a director of a hospital lacks essential personnel because they were delegated to the infectious diseases facility, I can see no reason why a resident who is on the neurosurgical ward cannot go to the surgical ward. We should also remember that 80 percent of patients in the infectious wards are the ‘mild cases’ which can be dealt with by a general practitioner,” Mr Szumowski said.

The minister emphasised that the number of COVID-19 tests in Poland is increasing day by day and that the ministry wants to reach the level of 10,000 per day very soon.

He also declared that his recommendation about the possibility of conducting the elections on May 10 will be “strictly medical.”

The minister was asked how far Poland is from an Italian or Spanish scenario. “The course of events is different, but I am far from being too optimistic... Currently, every Polish citizen makes the decision which scenario will occur. The key is the responsibility,” he emphasised.