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"Going back home was too much risk," says 30-year-old Anna. She flew from London a week ago, as part of the "Flight Home" program.

How do you keep social distancing here? 

- I had been tired of coughing for several days before traveling. I had no other symptoms, so I bought syrup and measured the temperature several times a day. I decided to come back. In Poland, I live with my parents and my mother suffers from lung disease, so I didn't want to do the quarantine there- she adds.

After landing at Okęcie, the 30-year-old called the crisis management center. Together with two other passengers, she was directed to a quarantine center in Stara Dąbrowa, almost in the middle of the Kampinos Forest.

Two hours later, an ambulance arrived to the airport. They were transported to the center without masks or other safety measures. The collective quarantine center is based in the building of Training Center for Volunteers of the Polish Scouting Association. The building can fit up to 70 people. There is a small pool inside, a place for bonfire outside, and just behind the fence the entrance to the Kampinos Forest. - I was surprised the first time I saw the rooms. We were accommodated in rooms for five or four guests. Several of rooms even have bunk beds. How to keep a safe distance in such conditions? - said the woman. Some rooms have bathrooms, but upstairs you have to share your bathroom with people from other rooms. There is a 66-year-old lady, who panicked that in this way she would get infected - describes Anna.

„If it’s below 38 degrees celsius, no one will care”

Today, the center houses over 50 people and two scouts volunteered to help. - Territorial Defense Forces soldiers were ordered to support us, but they have not arrived yet. Volunteers do what they can, but there are too few of them. They prepare breakfast, lunch, dinner. They clean up and accommodate new guests - says Anna. - We have to care for safety by ourselves. There is a thermometer on the table in the corridor and only one disinfectant for the whole center. We measure each other's temperature. Just a few days ago we could go out for walks in the forest, but the walks already have been banned, because the local people are afraid of infection. The neighbors also said they did not want us to walk around the yard in masks, because we scare children. Just a few days ago, because of the lack of free ambulances, a friend had to take a cab home from the airport. 

Ośrodek dla osób w kwarantannie w Starej DąbrowieOśrodek dla osób w kwarantannie w Starej Dąbrowie Anna

Last Thursday an ambulance have taken one of the people. The day before he arrived from London. - He had 37.7 degrees, but the volunteers said he has 38, otherwise, nobody would come. One thing is certain - says Anna. - If any of us came here with coronavirus, then probably everyone has it by now. This is what collective quarantine looks like - he adds.

Anna will stay in the center in Stara Dąbrowa until April 1st.

Voivodeship offices are responsible for collective quarantine centers. There are 86 of them in Mazovia. In total there is 6.9 thousand beds in the centers. These are holiday resorts, dormitories, and hotels. Currently, 159 people is confined there. The same rules are applied for people in collective quarantines centers as for those  in-home quarantine.

Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about the coronovirus pandemic for you.

They are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities. They work on the ground, reporting from hospitals and airports.

We have decided to open online access to our news stories and special guides focused on the issue of public health, for free.

The access to information should be equal for all.

Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation


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