The appearance of coronavirus in Poland is a matter of time. As yet, there have been no confirmed cases of the disease in Poland, said Minister of Health Lukasz Szumowski on Thursday.
“There are no cases of coronavirus in Poland. When it does appear in Poland, we will report this information immediately. As of now, there are no confirmed cases of infection,” said Minister of Health Lukasz Szumowski. He added that the virus was sure to appear in Poland within the coming days.
The minister said that 47 people with suspected coronavirus were hospitalised in Poland, 55 were under quarantine at home, and over 1,570 were under observation by the medical services.
Szumowski warned that “spreading panic” may lead to some patients not getting the care that they need. “This will not be for the good of the patient,” he added. “Once again, like a mantra, I ask fellow politicians not to exploit the situation of patients for political purposes. This is a matter of patient safety, patient conduct,” he said.
He appealed for media to “maintain a calm, rational approach” on coronavirus, and stated that “based on the data we have (…) it does not deviate dramatically from other viruses, such as influenza.”
Szumowski also said that “recommending that workers who have returned from Italy stay home was not dictated by medical expertise.” He noted that if there were no signs of coronavirus infection, everyone should continue to function normally.
In turn, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Michal Dworczyk, pointed out that providing reliable data on coronavirus was extremely important. He added that the Prime Minister’s Office had turned to the media for air time in the middle of the week to provided factually-correct information, and he thanked those which responded favourably.
Dworczyk also said that when it comes to finaces, there was a reserve in the state budget of over PLN 1 billion (EUR 231.5 million) set aside for crisis situations. In addition, there was still PLN 200 million (EUR 46.3 million) in the reserves of the prime minister, which could also be used, so there would be plenty of financial means to fight coronavirus.
“Of course, we cannot predict how the situation will develop,” said Dworczyk, adding that that was why there was a need for responsible communication, and not panic. He noted that it was difficult to resist the impression that some politicians were trying to arouse panic through their statements, and that this was irresponsible.
Informational material was also presented at the press conference. A presentation pointed out that the disease is most often manifested by fever, coughing, shortness of breath, muscle aches and fatigue, and that the virus was transmitted by the droplet route, when coughing, sneezing or speaking. It also explained various methods of minimalising the risk of infection, such as through the washing of hands with soap and water, or covering of the mouth when coughing or sneezing, or keeping at least a metre away from people who were coughing and sneezing.
The recommendations also stated that if people have visited north Italy, China, South Korea, Iran, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore or Taiwan in the last 14 days and have noticed symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing problems, they should immediately notify a sanitary-epidemiological station via phone or immediately seek medical help at an infection or observation ward, where the personnel will decide on a medical procedure to follow.
Dworczyk also stated that all this information was available at www.gov.pl/koronawirus. He noted that the site would be continuously updated.
He also mentioned that the information campaign would be developed and not only appear in the media, but also through other forms that would be announced in the coming days.
In addition, he said that the prime minister had invited provincial governors for a meeting at 9 a.m. at the Prime Minister’s Office to review communications issues and the preparation of each province, in the event of the appearance of coronavirus.
He added that the goal was to have factually accurate information reach every province, municipality and town.
Also taking part in the conference was Iwona Paradowska-Stankiewicz, a national consultant in the field of infectious disease epidemiology. She pointed out that there was no need for people who did not show signs of coronavirus infection to wear protective masks. She did add that masks were a good means of minimising virus transmission by people who were ill.
When asked if one could be reinfected with coronavirus, she replied that this was a difficult question, and added that patients who were infected were being observed. “On this basis, we now have our information,” she explained.
She pointed out that the infectivity of the virus was of importance when it came to transmission and increasing rates of infections. For example, she stated that in the case of measles, one person can infect 17-18 other people, and in the case of influenza virus, up to two people in the nearest contact.
Coronavirus was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, central China. Over 82,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and the virus has spread to over 50 countries.