Poland reported its highest number of deaths related to COVID-19 so far this year on Wednesday, as concern mounts that the health system is cracking under the strain of the pandemic’s third wave.
As case numbers soar amid the spread of the highly contagious variant of the coronavirus discovered in Britain, Poland’s health service has been driven to the brink, with some areas of the country close to running out of ventilators.
On March 29, health ministry data showed that there was one ventilator left in Silesia, an industrial southern region with a population of some 4.5 million people.
Poland reported 653 deaths on Wednesday, health ministry data showed. There were 32,874 new cases.
Amid media reports of medical students being called on to plug staffing shortages and even of a stroke patient being transported in the trunk of a passenger car, Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska sought to reassure Poles that the health service could cope.
“The situation is under control but very serious,” he told public broadcaster TVP1 before Wednesday’s data was published.
“We are increasing the number of beds in permanent and temporary hospitals.”
In total Poland, a country of 38 million, has reported 2,321,717 cases of the coronavirus and 53,045 deaths.
Main Photo: People queue to the entrance of the vaccination point at the Netto Arena in Szczecin, northwestern Poland. EPA-EFE/Marcin Bielecki