Poland reduces number of Covid beds as pandemic 'subsides'
The government has decided to return around 5,000 Covid hospital beds to standard care as the fifth wave of the pandemic seems to be subsiding, the health minister has said.
Adam Niedzielski said after a Medical Council meeting on Wednesday that the current condition of the Polish healthcare system has prompted the government to make "important decisions".
"At the moment we have close to 30,000 beds designated for fighting the coronavirus," Niedzielski said. "About two-thirds of these 30,000 beds are occupied, and yesterday we saw the first drop in the occupation rate as we have less than 20,000 hospitalisations.
"We have decided to quickly bring back about 5,000 beds to standard care... reducing the Covid infrastructure to about 25,000 beds," the minister continued.
The government will also scrap the quarantine requirement for unvaccinated people travelling from the Schengen zone and will shorten quarantine for non-Schengen travellers to seven days from 10, starting from February 11.
Self-isolation for Covid-infected people will be shortened from 10 days to 7, beginning from February 15, while household members will be quarantined only for the period of the infected person's self-isolation, Niedzielski said.
The government has also decided to stop imposing quarantine on all people who have had contact with an infected person.
Explaining the rationale behind the changes despite daily infections running at tens of thousands, Niedzielski said: "The trends have changed and now we're dealing with a situation where the horrifyingly high rate of growth is turning into a high rate of declines."
Additionally, the infections are not as vicious as they used to be, according to the health minister.
"We can see very clearly that it is no longer the same course of the Covid illness that we saw in the fourth (previous - PAP) wave," Niedzielski explained. "Hospitalisations... are shorter, much shorter," he added.