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Every patient suspected with Covid-19 must receive a face mask when admitted to a clinic or a hospital and needs to keep distance of at least two meters from others. A clinician must gather patient’s details by completing a paper questionnaire. A&E units are to be reorganised so a secluded space for patients suspected of Covid-19 is created; a separate one for those who are suspected but don’t display symptoms, another one for those who have developed symptoms and a third one for the rest. Patients who had their samples collected are to be directed to a designated isolation room.

Effectively, every hospital has to have a ward for patients who are suspected to be infected with the coronavirus and another one for those who tested positive for it. A zone for Covid-19 patients has to be also created at all intensive care units.

The voivode of Śląsk sent an instruction to hospitals. It reads: “It results from a need to minimalise the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission which occurred at many hospitals throughout the country. The implementation of the instruction should be corelated with employment of tents given by the Fire Rescue Service or other technological solutions available”.

Every patient’s a suspect

Urszula Mendera-Bożek heads the voivodeship public health unit (Sanepid) in Katowice. She said: “From now on every patient admitted to a hospital is going to be treated a a suspect. It might sound dangerous but the medical staff has to learn that everyone might be spreading this dangerous virus”.

Some hospitals have already implemented the instruction. But it might prove to be difficult at other even if they received tents from the fire brigades. “An emergency room might be organised at a tent, but an ICU at one is beyond my imagination”, the director of one of the hospitals told this paper.

The advice from Ministry of Health states also that all hospitals’ employees should have their temperature checked on a regular basis, and especially when they arrive to their workplace. Another hospital director commented: “As I understand it is to show that we are doing something. But what exactly, as we already know that some of people infected to not display any symptoms? Temperature checks are a half-measure”.

A test is the only reliable tool

Head of the Health Centre in Mikołów Władysław Perchaluk said: “Screenings are the only measure warranting that staff members won’t be spreading the virus.”

But staff members’ testing is difficult. If someone does not display symptoms or didn’t have any close contact with a positive-tested individual, Sanepid refuses to run the test. Hospital managers resort to pay for the tests themselves. The Voivodeship Hospital No 4 in Bytom might serve as an example. Last week three wards had to be sealed off because of the coronavirus. Several dozens of samples were sent to Sanepid, but the lab refused to test some of them. To cut the limbo period short, units’ managers decided to run tests on all 720 employees.

Mr Perchaluk: „Sadly, it takes longer and longer for the results to arrive. We’re now sending samples to Warsaw to get the results sooner.”

Until recently there were two labs in Śląsk voivodship. Now there are four but they still fail not to develop backlogs, so it takes days to get results. And after such a period the result might already be out of date.

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.

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