Warsaw city hospitals running low on COVID ventilators

Published December 9, 2021, 8:21 AM

by Agence-France-Presse

WARSAW, Poland – Warsaw city hall said Wednesday that ventilators for coronavirus patients were in short supply at municipal hospitals, as Poland — a country with one of the EU’s lowest vaccination levels — battles high infection numbers.

“According to the figures that we received today, there wasn’t a single free ventilator for COVID patients,” said Warsaw deputy spokeswoman Marzena Wojewodzka.

“This is of course a worrying sign… We’re also still seeing that most of these patients are not vaccinated,” she told AFP. She said nine ventilators had to be sourced from other wards, as the 104 available for COVID patients were not enough. She noted that she was referring only to municipal hospitals and did not have figures for university or government facilities located in the capital. Poland is currently the 20th hardest-hit country in the world in terms of coronavirus cases compared to its population, according to an AFP tally on Wednesday, with an incidence rate of 433.3 cases per 100,000 people over the last week. The health ministry on Wednesday reported a daily new 28,542 cases in the EU member of 38 million people. It also reported 592 new deaths.

To fight the pandemic, the government adopted new measures on Tuesday, including further restricting number of people allowed in churches, restaurants, and theatres starting December 15.

Poland also plans to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers, teachers, and the military from March 1. Also from December 15, people flying into Poland from outside the EU’s free-travel Schengen area must have proof of a negative test taken no earlier than 24 hours before crossing the border.

Among other measures, schools will switch to remote learning for a few days on either side of the Christmas holidays, meaning that children will be out of school from December 20 to January 9.

There will be a capacity limit of 75 percent on public transport and nightclubs will have to close.

Poland’s right-wing populist government has so far been very cautious about following other European countries in embracing vaccine certificates and mandatory vaccinations.

Vaccination hesitancy is still very high in Poland, as only around 54 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

Most of the opposition is calling on the government to impose tougher restrictions.