Poland Turning National Stadium Into COVID-19 Field Hospital

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -
A view of the National Stadium in Warsaw.  (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

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.

Government spokesman Piotr Müller said Monday that the stadium will have room for 500 patients and will be equipped with oxygen therapy for those who need it.

“We can see that the number of cases is growing so fast that we need to secure places for hospitalization for those who need it,” Müller said, speaking on TVP Info news channel.

Also 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.

Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said he was also going into quarantine after contact with an infected person.

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

Poland experienced very low rates of infection in the spring compared with western European countries but is now witnessing an exponential surge of coronavirus infections.

On Monday the Health Ministry recorded 7,482 new coronavirus infections over the previous day and 41 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic the nation of 38 million has recorded 183,248 cases and 3,614 deaths. However, the true rate of infection is likely higher.

In the past day, 36,000 COVID-19 tests were carried out, meaning that nearly 21% of all tests came back positive.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski warned Monday that Poland could have 15,000 to 20,000 new cases daily if infection rates keep increasing at their current pace. He said his ministry is preparing for that scenario.