Despite the news of venues reopening and events restarting, our sector’s facilities are still very much at the forefront of the ongoing fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Since February, Poland has been in the grip of a devastating second wave of infections with the national stadium – PGE Narodowy – now closed for events and repurposed not only as a mass vaccination centre but also an emergency hospital.

The venue’s hospitality and event spaces have been converted to the required medical infrastructure for 550 beds, with the potential to increase this to circa 1,200 if admissions continue to rise.

Dr. Artur Zaczyński, director of the temporary hospital at the National Stadium told Polish television station TVN24 that the facility currently has 310 patients in various levels of care. 

Acting as an overflow facility to the city’s main hospitals, if the stadium hospital “reaches 70 percent capacity, then we will occupy other areas of the stadium, taking staff and relocation of doctors from other hospitals,” confirmed Zaczyński.

Zaczyński also confirmed there had been an increase in younger patients aged 20-30 being admitted in recent, amidst concerns over new variants.

Changes to Poland’s health legislation mean that since March 30 the (stadium-based) National Hospital can take admissions directly in critical situations, instead of intra-hospitality transfers. This change is to help relieve overloaded emergency departments in existing hospitals once ambulances are queueing or delayed. 

Just how long the stadium, which was originally built to host UEFA’s Euro2012 tournament, remains closed for events is unknown. The temporary hospital will remain in operation as long as established medical treatment facilities are under pressure. 

The stadium’s event calendar lists just four event for the rest of 2021. There are no scheduled sports fixtures, with the next listed event an Iron Maiden concert on 11 June but this date is in doubt. Last month, the stadium’s operator NCS2012 confirmed that later concert dates of Rammstein in July and Andrea Bocelli in August will both move to summer 2022. 

On a more positive note, Poland’s weekly COVID-19 case numbers appear may have peaked from 35,000 on 1 April to under 10,000 at the start of this week – with the 7-day average also on a downward, more hopeful trend.  

Image: SzpitalNarodowy