Poland heralds virus strategy protecting both lives and jobs

Poland’s prime minister has outlined a “middle of the road” strategy of defending people’s health and lives while also protecting the economy and jobs in the country’s fight against COVID-19

Mateusz Morawiecki said the policy rejected the approaches of those playing down the danger posed by the pandemic, as well as of those calling for another lockdown.

“Our strategy is to structure social and economic life in a way that will allow us to continue to learn, work and live without locking down the economy, but at the same time to break the transmission belt of infection,” Morawiecki said.

On Wednesday, Poland registered a record of over 10,000 new confirmed infections, bringing the total to almost 203,000 in a country of some 38 million.

Speaking to lawmakers during a parliamentary debate on special anti-COVID-19 legislation, Morawiecki said the government was preparing for long months, “hopefully not years,” of struggle before the pandemic can be brought under control.

The number of hospital beds for COVID-19 patients is being raised from some 17,000 now to 30,000, while Warsaw’s National Stadium and conference halls in large cities are being turned into temporary hospitals. Physical therapy centers for convalescents are to open in many regions, and special care is to be offered to the elderly to allow them to stay safely home and avoid exposure to the virus.

With the return to schools and universities linked with the recent sharp spike in infections, the government wants all primary schools to switch to remote learning, and plans to adopt a mixed system for older students.

The lawmakers were debating proposals to increase funds for medics involved in treating COVID-19 patients, and to temporarily exempt them from legal responsibility for mistakes in treatment.

The decisions come at a time when opinion polls show shrinking support for the right-wing government.

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