1. Preventing transmission
The section on PREVENTING TRANSMISSION includes information on key public health measures that aim to prevent the further spread of the disease. It details how countries are advising the general public and people who (might) have the disease to prevent further spread, as well as measures in place to test and identify cases, trace contacts, and monitor the scale of the outbreak.
1.1 Health communication
On April 16, the government released a detailed plan to gradually lift restrictions related to COVID-19 (for more information see ‘Transition measures: physical distancing’). Residents received a mobile text message informing them when Stage 1 was starting and that further details on the New Normality plan were available at a dedicated website (https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/nowa-normalnosc-etapy). The plan is currently (as of early September) in Stage 3.
The Prime Minister's Office has launched a special chatbot that allows people to obtain information related to the coronavirus epidemic via WhatsApp phone application. The chat is operated on a 24/7 basis and covers information such as preventive measures, symptoms, isolation recommendations and travel advice, as well as the current number of cases in Poland. It also aims to debunk the most popular myths related to the disease.
https://www.gov.pl/web/koronawirus/masz-pytania-dotyczace-epidemii-koronawirusa-napisz-do-nas-na-whatsappie [access online 05.10.2020]
The Chief Sanitary Inspectorate issued the first official advice on January 31, 2020. More detailed information appeared approximately three weeks later (24 February). Since then, information spots across various media - on television, via internet – as well as posters on public transport (metro, buses, trams, trains) advise people on what the new virus is, how it is transmitted, hygiene practices (including washing hands correctly, coughing, and sneezing), physical distancing, etc. Since April 16, the official advice includes the obligation to cover the mouth and nose in public.
On February 27, the NHF24-hour telephone helpline was launched, along with a government website on coronavirus, where current information and recommendations are made available (https://www.gov.pl/web/koronavirus). Many information leaflets also have been delivered by post to households.
Information about the severity of the epidemic is transmitted through official channels, including the Ministry of Health (website, Twitter, Facebook), the Prime Minister's office (same channels), the National Health Fund and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate.
The first press conferences on the coronavirus were held on January 30 in connection with the evacuation of Polish citizens from China. The Prime Minister and Minister of Health also give regular press briefings on the current situation (number of confirmed cases, deaths and recovered cases) and on measures adopted to combat the spread of the virus. On April 4, the Ministry of Health announced that reports on new cases will be given only twice a day (initially, every new case was reported). The reports will from now on include the number of people who have recovered.
The various means of providing information related to COVID-19 epidemic (such as on the latest recommendations or accessing benefits) are not adapted to the populations with special needs. For example, people with a severe hearing impairment or hearing loss will not be able to use the special telephone lines or have phone consultations. They could potentially use video conferencing to get medical advice but this may be difficult as there are very few sign language specialists in Poland who could assist with this.