Coronavirus tests free for all, Polish health minister says

Everyone who requires coronavirus tests will get them free of charge, Polish Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said on Tuesday.

There has been no confirmed case of coronavirus in Poland yet, Szumowski said, but added that sooner or later the virus will come to Poland too due to the situation in Europe.

"We are getting ready for this. Seventy-nine infectious diseases wards have been on high alert for some time now," he said.

The health minister also commented on reports in the media about commercial coronavirus tests.

"Every citizen and person residing in Poland that requires tests will have them done free of charge. I don't agree to any commercial actions," he said.

Szumowski said the reaction of Polish authorities to the rapid spread of the virus in Italy has been very swift with regard to travellers returning from Italy.

Turning to flu infections, the health minister said 10,000 people were being hospitalised due to the disease, with 2 million infections recorded since the start of the flu season.

PM's Office head Michal Dworczyk, who was also present at the conference, said the government has set up a working team to monitor the epidemiological situation in the country. On Wednesday, the government will launch a coronavirus awareness campaign, he added.

All Polish airports have been carrying out medical and temperature checks of passengers, Dworczyk also said, quoting the chief sanitary inspector.

The health minister announced he will ask the EU health commissioner for an urgent meeting of EU health ministers.

"Acting on behalf of the Council of Ministers (cabinet - PAP) and the prime minister, I'm sending a letter to Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, asking for an urgent meeting of EU health ministers in order to discuss the epidemiological situation in Europe. We are aware that the situation is different in different countries," Szumowski said.