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Coronavirus in Poland. COVID-19 still dangerous. Doctors warn against fall

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Clinics experience unprecedented pressure at this time of patients with symptoms of colds. Although they suspect omicron infection in many cases, they do not always have a way to check it. Experts admit that COVID-19 has not disappeared and continues to threaten unvaccinated and immunocompromised people. And they are concerned about autumn.

– There are definitely more people suffering from infections than usually at the end of May – admits Paweł Doczekalski from the Supreme Medical Council (NRL), a primary care physician (POZ). – In many cases, the symptoms resemble COVID-19, but we cannot verify this, because from April 1, 2022, the Ministry of Health and the National Health Fund withdrew from financing covid tests, the doctor explains.

Although he recommends his patients to perform a pharmacy test, they rarely return to it with the information whether it was positive: – Perhaps the barrier is the several dozen zlotys that have to be spent on it in a pharmacy – Paweł Doczekalski wonders.

COVID-19 continues to threaten unvaccinated and immunocompromised peopleFilip Blażejowski / Forum

After April 1, some POZ offices ordered free cassette tests, quick antigen tests, which can be performed in the office from the Governmental Reserves Agency. Doctors, however, rarely use them: – My package is intact – admits Dr. Tomasz Zieliński, family doctor and vice-president of the Federation of Healthcare Employers’ Associations, Zielona Góra Agreement.

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– I believe that it makes no sense to perform a test that does not in any way change the way you treat the patient. For if it turns out that the patient has covid, the only thing I can do is send him home and – as with any other infection – recommend self-isolation. I can’t isolate him. Since the Ministry of Health decided that covid is no longer a problem, I will not break out – says Zieliński ironically.

People infected with the coronavirus continue to receive intensive care

Although the ministerial statistics differ from those from just a few months ago (1,871 infections were recorded from May 19 to 25, and 60 people died due to covid), the coronavirus, or more precisely the disease it causes, has not completely disappeared from hospitals.

On May 24, those infected with the coronavirus occupied 523 beds, some of them in intensive care. – Currently, there are two patients with SARS-CoV-2 in the intensive care unit – one is an immunocompromised person, the other a person who has never been vaccinated – says Dr. Artur Zaczyński, director of the Ministry of Interior and Administration’s Central Clinical Hospital for medical matters.

Dr Zaczyński adds that although the coronavirus has mutated into a less infectious form and patients mostly pass it like other mild viral infections, hospitals should still be prepared for hospitalization of patients with SARS-CoV-2. – In our hospital, people with symptoms indicative of covid are tested, and if they require hospitalization, they are placed in isolation rooms prepared in each ward – he explains.

“It is in the interest of the patient to know what he is dealing with”

According to Professor Marcin Czech, head of the team for nosocomial infections at the Institute of Mother and Child, it would be good if doctors could issue referrals for free tests as before. – It is in the interest of the patient himself to know what he is dealing with. If we are infected with the coronavirus in the omicron variant, it is worth self-isolating to protect family or colleagues – he believes.

Also Professor Tomasz J. Wąsik, head of the Chair and Department of Microbiology and Virology of the Medical University of Silesia, believes that screening for COVID-19 should be resumed.

– Thanks to the Minister of Health, Adam Niedzielski, we do not test people with suspected coronavirus and we do not know what is happening. Meanwhile, mutations are non-directional and there is a chance that it may appear extremely virulent in the fall. Remember that the pandemic is not over and the virus is circulating in a population that is only slightly vaccinated, he argues.

– There will definitely be a significant increase in infections in the fall and we will probably have to go back to the masks – warns Professor Wąsik. He adds that a new, also virulent, variant of the virus is likely to be selected.

Optimistic version, pessimistic version

– The World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have developed three scenarios. The optimistic one assumes that it will become an endemic virus, and the pessimistic one that it will develop a very virulent variant, which will result in a sharp increase in infections and an outbreak of an epidemic with high mortality. This will also result in a quick end to the pandemic, but at a high cost, explains Professor Wąsik.

He adds that the storage of the delta variant may no longer protect against the omicron: – What Minister Niedzielski deigns to tell should be put between fairy tales. In addition, people who were vaccinated with the third dose in September will lose this immunity and become infected, he sums up.

Main photo source: Filip Blażejowski / Forum

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