Polish volunteers deliver coffee, walk dogs as coronavirus spreads

WROCLAW, Poland, March 21 (Reuters) - Robert Wagner, a community activist in the Polish city of Wroclaw, says delivering coffee and packed lunches to hard-pressed doctors and paramedics is the least he can do as coronavirus spreads across the country.

In Poland, where 439 cases have been confirmed with five deaths, medical staff are working overtime to treat the increasing number of coronavirus patients, and community groups are mobilising to help.

“We’re trying to support medical professionals in Wroclaw, paramedics, emergency departments and infections ward employees as much as we can... we provide them a so-called packed lunch... so that they can work somehow,” Wagner told Reuters.

Other volunteers are rallying to assist elderly people and those with underlying health conditions who are staying at home for fear of becoming infected.

Joanna Cieslik, the owner of Restaurant Bistro 8 1/2 in Wroclaw, has dedicated her kitchen to providing free meals to elderly, sick and homeless people in the city.

“The situation is not easy, but we try to find a positive side. We decided to help as much as we can,” said Cieslik, whose restaurant is only open for take-out meals due to government restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

Creating a Facebook group called “Visible Hand”, school teacher Marta Listwan said she wanted to set up a platform for public-spirited residents to provide everyday services to those affected by the outbreak -- from picking up medicine from the pharmacy to walking the dog.

“I created this group for my friends and friends of friends, hoping that as many as sixty people will appear,” she said. Over 17,000 appeared.” (Reporting by Natalia Dobryszycka Writing by Joanna Plucinska Editing by Helen Popper)