Poland to open temporary hospital at national stadium in Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland plans to open a temporary hospital at the national stadium in Warsaw as it faces a spike in coronavirus cases and a health system overload, the government said on Monday.

Poland has recorded new records in daily cases and deaths in the past weeks, with doctors reporting shortages of personnel, hospital beds and equipment.

"On Saturday, the prime minister ordered the preparation of the first temporary hospital, which will be located at the national stadium," Michal Dworczyk, the prime minister's chief of staff, who is responsible for the project, told radio Zet.

The hospital, set up in the stadium's conference rooms, will have beds for 500 COVID-19 patients, with the option to expand to 1,000 beds. The first beds will likely be available this week.

Dworczyk said other regions were also working on opening temporary hospitals.

He said the government had no plans to close cemeteries and stop people from travelling around the country on and around Nov. 1, when millions of Poles visit family graves for All Saints' Day.

Earlier this week the government urged citizens to stay at home and ordered gyms and pools to close, restaurants to limit opening hours, and a shift to remote teaching in universities and secondary schools.

The government says it is trying to avoid a total lockdown, but experts say this may be inevitable if the situation becomes critical.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Giles Elgood)

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