- The state of the epidemic in connection with infections by the SARS-CoV-2 virus was introduced by the decree of the Minister of Health of March 20, 2020.
- It will be canceled on May 16, 2022
- The change from an epidemic to an epidemic emergency does not change much in practice for hospitals and patients
- Important changes regarding the removal of restrictions that came into effect earlier
- As noted by Dr. Jerzy Jaroszewicz, replacing an epidemic with an epidemic threat is primarily social in nature.
- He points out that we are currently going through a period of pandemic calm, but that does not mean that the increase in the number of infections will not come back to us in the fall.
On Friday, May 6, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski announced that the epidemic status would be lifted and that the epidemic threat status would apply. The state of the epidemic in connection with infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus was established by order of the Minister of Health on March 20, 2020. It will be canceled on May 16.
– The situation we are going to face allows us to maintain a certain legislative preparation for solutions, and at the same time we send a signal that the situation and our risk assessment are significantly better. The real test will be September, the time of the return to school and work, increased transmission – said Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski.
As explained by Dr. Grzegorz Juszczyk, director of the National Institute of Public Health PZH – National Research Institute, the state of the epidemic is established in order to carry out activities aimed at combating the effects of an epidemic when ‘there is a sharp increase in the number of infections and the burden on the health care system. The state of the epidemic required the creation of covid units allowing access to care, introducing protective vaccinations against the coronavirus. At that time, restrictions on quarantine, the requirement to wear masks, and restrictions on the number of people staying in public places were introduced.
– The state of epidemic threat, i.e. the situation that we will have to face from May 16, is a situation in which we expect that the number of infected people may increase again and that the health system is overloaded. At this stage, we are closely monitoring the level of epidemiological risk. There are protocols on the implementation of actions related to the pending epidemic state – explains Dr. Grzegorz Juszczyk.
From pandemic to endemic
– We are moving towards an endemic situation, that is to say a situation where the virus is still in our environment, but due to vaccinations and people who have fallen ill, the endemic no longer poses a threat to social life. -economic and hospitalization – underlined Minister Adam Niedzielski.
According to Dr. Hab. Jerzy Jaroszewicz, head of the department of infectious diseases and hepatology at the Medical University of Warsaw, member of the main council of the Polish Society of Epidemiologists and Doctors of Infectious Diseases, the transition from an epidemic to an epidemic emergency does not change not much in a practical sense for hospitals and patients.
On March 28, masks in public places except medical facilities no longer apply, home isolation and home quarantine for co-members of a person infected with the SARS virus- CoV-2 have been abolished.
Since April 1, free coronavirus tests for patients can only be carried out by the healthcare providers themselves, as part of the advice provided.
– The changes have already taken place, about a month ago. Covid services have been closed and the covid allowance for carers of patients with this disease has been removed. However, from the point of view of the infection prevention procedures applied to patients in the hospital, they remain similar. The hospital must continue to treat every patient as potentially infected with the coronavirus. Plus asymptomatic people can transmit the infection to other patients, for example risk groups – says Dr. Jerzy Jaroszewicz.
Distance, disinfection, mask
Hospital procedures for testing patients have largely been left to hospitals and hospitals will determine them. The signal from the Ministry of Health and GIS was that extensive screening in hospitals is not recommended.
– We do not screen for COVID-19. The performance of the test depends on the medical history and the state of health of the patient or the possibility of infection reported – confirms Dr. Marcin Kuta, director of the specialized hospital. E. Szczeklik in Tarnow.
As he says, the hospital staff has a period of more than two years of experience in working in the conditions of the COVID-19 epidemic. The transition from an epidemic to an epidemic emergency does not matter to the hospital. – We are constantly in a state of heightened vigilance – emphasizes the director. A sign of the risk of coronavirus is the masks doctors wear when communicating with the patient. Until March 2022, they wore them in operating theaters, treatment rooms and with an infected patient.
Distance, disinfection, mask – here the rules are the same and apply not only to staff, patients, but also to the families of patients who come to visit. Hospitals, due to the state of epidemic threat, remain under visit restrictions.
– A new visiting regulation has been in effect for several days. They are possible from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. We ask families that there are no children under the age of 10 among visitors, that only one person visits the sick person and that the duration of the visit does not exceed 30, preferably 15 minutes. We respect the rights of the patient, but we will not return to the situation before March 2020 – announces director Marcin Kuta.
As noted by Dr. Jerzy Jaroszewicz, replacing an epidemic with an epidemic threat is primarily social in nature. It is a signal to the public that the situation regarding the COVID-19 threat is better. However, this signal must be accompanied by another: the situation is better, but requires close monitoring, because unfortunately SARS-Cov2 has already surprised us several times, and the most effective form of protection is still vaccinations.
He points out that we are currently going through a period of pandemic calm, but that does not mean that the increased number of infections will not come back to us in the fall. Patients with COVID-19 are still hospitalized: – They are in slightly better condition than in previous months, but there are patients who require high-flow therapy or a ventilator. There are also constant outbreaks of hospital-acquired COVID-19 infections.
– I am convinced that this is not the end of the pandemic and, unfortunately, in the fall the situation will return when we will have several, even several thousand infections per day – predicts Dr. Jerzy Jaroszewicz.
– All epidemiological models and specialist expectations for the fall are such that an increase in infections can be expected. The key question is whether these infections will cause a new variant and whether they will proceed in such a worrying way that there will be a need for additional medical care – underlined the director of the National Institute of Public Health of the Institute National Hygiene – National Research Institute Grzegorz Juszczyk.
As noted by dr. hab. Jerzy Jaroszewicz, it can be assumed that we currently have herd immunity, incl. following the COVID-19 disease. We also know, however, that this immunity breaks down quite quickly. He adds: – If we do not intensify the vaccination campaign – and we are not – I fear that the immunity of the population will disappear in the coming months and that the disease will increase again significant.
Covid alert continues
He also points out that commonly available tests have been abandoned. – I would leave the procedure for universal availability of tests until the summer holidays. When it was decided to abandon extensive testing, a relatively large number of daily infections persisted. At this time, we don’t know the true number of infections – hence the all-important monitoring of COVID-19 cases to see if the infection trend continues. Without performing a sufficient number of tests per day, there is no complete answer to this question, he notes.
He adds that the smaller number of tests also significantly complicates the administration of anti-vid drugs, which significantly reduces the likelihood of hospitalization – even by up to 90%. – In my opinion, this is a great step forward in the treatment of COVID-19. However, the effective use of these drugs requires that they be administered within 5 days of the first symptoms. I fear that the lack of in-depth diagnoses will close the way to the administration of drugs that avoid hospitalizations, underlines the expert.
– Still, at the slightest suspicion of COVID-19, I would recommend the use of PCR tests, and in addition to respecting the rules of social distancing, disinfection, wearing a mask and getting vaccinated – summarizes the Dr. Jerzy Jaroszewicz.
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