In Poland the most serious outbreak underground. In the coal mines. Where there was once a canary to signal the danger and where now no sentry has managed to locate the presence of the coronavirus in advance. For over two and a half months, at least half of the 300 or 400 daily cases of infection in Poland they just showed up in Silesia, the largest mining area in the country, which has become the last bastion of virus resistance, despite the fact that only 12% of Poles live there.
If it really emerged from a cave, it is not so strange that the Sars-CoV-2 has found its ideal habitat in the humid and dark tunnels, where men work nearby, sweat, share the same air for hours. IS whose activity, considered among the indispensable to the nation, could not be blocked indefinitely. Thus, for Warsaw, the containment budget, quite successful everywhere, is dramatically spoiled in the subsoil of the hills around Katowice, in southern Poland, where at the beginning of June over 85% of new daily infections were still concentrated: 202 cases out of 234 in twenty-four hours.
More than four thousand workers at the extraction wells tested positive tests and the government’s goal to complete a screening of the 14,000 miners employed in three fields. Withdrawals are not so much a problem as the state – from the beginning of the epidemic – on overload of the eleven local laboratories. From 7 May the samples were therefore sent for analysis in other Polish regions and the results were delayed, giving precious time to the virus to circulate. The relatively good news that apart from Silesia, we have no other outbreaks, according to Wojciech Andrusiewicz, spokesman for the Minister of Health. Is that, with around 230 confirmed victims so far in the region, the mortality rate is not higher than elsewhere, despite the fact that Silesia is the most densely populated voivodeship with almost 5 million inhabitants in just over 12 thousand square kilometers.
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According to epidemiologists, the low lethality of the virus among the affected miners is explained by their young age, between 20 and 30 years old. But really the levity of symptoms and complications may have favored the unaware spread in the family, to older and more vulnerable parents or relatives. In the last few hours, from Warsaw, the Ministry of Health has announced that the situation is finally under control, but it also supported it a couple of weeks ago, and curving the pandemic curve has instead required much more time and more efforts than in the majority of the others Eastern European countries, such as the Czech Republic, Hungary or Slovakia.
Poland was however among the most reactive nations when the Covid-19 alarm went off. He immediately closed the borders, suspended non-essential economic activities, prohibited gatherings. The total number of infections has so far remained below 27 thousand cases, less than 1,200 lethal. And now Warsaw impatient to ease the restrictive measures and return to normal: 90% of respirators in hospitals are available and 80% of beds are reserved for Covid patients. In mid-May, when visiting Silesia and the convalescent miners, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki ruled out that it was possible to transform the voivodeship into a red zone and recalled that the timely resumption of full mining activity was a fundamental step to save jobs. But experts are worried about an excess of optimism (or desire for reassurance) from the government, which is considering reopening the stadiums and authorizing wedding parties with up to 150 guests: I fear we may have other outbreaks, he said. at the Financial Times the epidemiologist Maria Ganczak, from the University of Zielona Gora. But hopefully they will be spotted earlier and better addressed than in Silesia.
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