Poland’s national stadium will double as a field hospital for Warsaw, a senior government official said on Monday, as a spike in coronavirus cases has strained health care facilities to breaking point.

The decision came days after the government asked Poles to “stay home” and “work remotely” if possible as it announced a raft of restrictions to stem infections.

Built for the UEFA Euro 2012 football championships, the 60,000-seat stadium has conference rooms under its stands able to accommodate patients.

“About 500 beds will be installed in the stadium to receive people requiring hospitalisation,” government spokesman Piotr Muller told the commercial Polsatnews channel.

The new facility, which will have around 50 intensive care beds, will be ready to accept patients by the end of the week.

Field hospitals could be created in each of Poland’s 16 administrative regions if need be, Muller said.

Media reports suggest that hospitals in areas with the largest spike in cases have run out of beds and are refusing to accept new patients arriving by ambulance.

Roughly half of Poland was designated a coronavirus “red zone” as of Saturday, with secondary schools switching to distance learning.

Restaurants close at 9pm, weddings have been banned and stricter limits have been placed on the numbers of people allowed in shops, on public transport and at religious services.

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