Poland turning National Stadium into COVID-19 field hospital

WARSAW, POLAND (AP) — Poland’s government is transforming the National Stadium in Warsaw into a field hospital to handle the surging number of people infected with the coronavirus, and expects it to be operational within days, officials said.

The government is also making preparations to create other temporary hospitals as Polish hospitals are filling up and threatening to turn into a major crisis.

“We assume that it will not be possible to stop the dynamics of the epidemic and that we will have to open more temporary hospitals,” Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said.

Michal Dworczyk, the head of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s office, said the hospital at the National Stadium will have 500 beds in the first stage, 50 of which will be for patients requiring intensive care. Eventually it should be able to take 1,000 patients. He said it would be operational in a matter of days.

“This is the first time we are doing something like this in Poland. It is a great challenge for us,” Dworczyk said.

Also on Monday, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the conservative ruling party and Deputy Prime Minister, went into voluntary quarantine after having contact with an infected person. He was showing no symptoms and working from home, the party spokesman said.

Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said he was also going into quarantine after contact with an infected person but also said he was feeling well.

It was unclear how the government will manage to staff the hospital at the stadium given widespread reports of shortages of doctors and other medical officials across the country.

A view of the National Stadium in Warsaw. PHOTO: AP