Poland to open temporary hospital at Warsaw national stadium

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Poland plans to open a temporary hospital at Warsaw’s landmark national stadium to ease the strain on the healthcare system from spiking coronavirus cases, the government said on Monday.

Poland has recorded multiple new records in daily cases and deaths in the past weeks, with doctors reporting shortages of personnel, hospital beds and equipment.

“I fear that looking at the development of the situation we will have his infrastructure set up for weeks if not months in several places in Poland,” government spokesman Piotr Muller told state broadcaster TVP Info.

Michal Dworczyk, the prime minister’s chief of staff, told radio Zet the hospital will be set up in the stadium’s conference rooms rather than the 58,000 capacity arena, with beds for 500 COVID-19 patients and an option to double that to 1,000 beds. The first beds will probably be available this week.

The PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, 19 October 2020 EPA-EFE/Leszek Szymanski POLAND OUT

The stadium, completed in 2012, is one of Warsaw’s landmarks. It hosted Euro 2012 matches and concerts by Metallica, The Rolling Stones and Phil Collins, among others.

The health ministry said on Monday it will build one more temporary hospital in Warsaw and that other regions were also working on such sites.

Dworczyk said the government had no plans to close cemeteries and stop people from travelling around Nov. 1, when millions of Poles visit family graves for All Saints’ Day.

Earlier this week, the government urged citizens to stay at home, ordered gyms and pools to close, restaurants to reduce opening hours, and universities and secondary schools to shift to remote classes.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party was initially successful in containing the pandemic in spring, but it has faced criticism from the opposition and doctors for failing to prepare the country for the second wave.

A poll by IBRIS for Wirtualna Polska news portal showed support for PiS has fallen by 5.5 percentage points to 36.1%, while backing for the biggest opposition group rose by 6 percentage points to 28.2%.

On Saturday Poland reported a daily infection record with 9,622 new cases. On Monday it had 7,482 new cases.

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