The extensive coal mining industry in southern Polish region of Silesia has seen a spike in coronavirus cases since the end of April.
Of the over 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Poland, almost 3,800 were registered in the southern voivodeship. That is 1,000 more than the cases in the country’s largest Mazovian voivodeship, where the capital Warsaw is located.
On Monday, the Health Ministry reported 213 new cases in Silesia alone, out of a total of 330 for the entire country. More than half of those cases were workers of coal mines in and around Katowice, the region’s capital.
In total, 600 miners have so far been diagnosed with coronavirus. As a result, sanitary services have conducted a large-scale testing operation among 10,000 miners. Results are expected this week.
The spike in coronavirus cases in Silesia came at a time when the Polish governments started to relax restrictions put in place to contain the virus. Shopping malls, preschools and cultural institutions were allowed to reopen last week under a strict sanitary regime.
According to Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski, Silesia could be exempted from further economic relaxation if the spread continues.
“We will see in the coming days how the situation plays out in Silesia,” he said during a press conference over the weekend. “And then we will decide whether we will differentiate between regions or enact the same policy for the entire country.”