Hospitals in Poland struggled over the Easter weekend following a surge in coronavirus cases.
Some 40,000 cases were confirmed in each of the two weeks leading up to Easter weekend, leading to a large influx of COVID-19 patients, amid a surge in infections across central and eastern Europe.
There have been reports in Polish media about the health sector reaching a breaking point, and in some hospitals almost all beds are filled by coronavirus patients.
One such hospital is the County Hospital of Bochnia, some 40 kilometers east of the southern city of Krakow, which had almost all of its 120 beds occupied by COVID patients on Easter Sunday.
One of the patients, Edward Szumanski, voiced concerns about how some still refuse to see the virus as a threat.
“The disease is certainly there and it is very serious. Those who have not been through it, those who do not have it in their family, may be deluding themselves, but the reality is different,” he said.
He said he was worried that hospital spaces could soon run out and that more people will die.
The hospital’s medical director, Jaroslaw Gucwa, said the pandemic had been made worse by those who believe it is all a hoax.
He added that the hospital is so overrun that it is now discharging patients who still need more treatment to make room for worse cases.
“The health service as such will not collapse,” he said, but noted that some patients in the past year had been waiting for hours in ambulances or been shuffled from hospital to hospital in search of an empty bed.
“It is a difficult situation, because there are a lot of patients,” said Bozena Gicala, a nurse at the Bochnia hospital.
Another nurse, Ewa Ptak, said she’d had COVID-19 herself and was on a mission to help those who are suffering more than she did.
“Thank God I went without a hospital and I was fine. But I know what it is and I just want to help people,” Ptak said.
Tougher new pandemic restrictions were ordered in Poland for a two-week period surrounding Easter in order to slow down the infection rate.
The aim was to prevent large gatherings over the three-day weekend, culminating with Easter Monday.
Poland has nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, and almost 55,000 deaths.
It is hitting new records for daily infections, and recently daily deaths have been in the hundreds.
The government is speeding up the country’s vaccine rollout, but there are no signs of the pressure on hospitals easing just yet.