WARSAW (Reuters) - The situation in Polish coal mines has stabilized after a rapid increase in new coronavirus cases in the past few weeks, Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin said on Friday.
Infections among miners have been disproportionately high, according to health ministry figures, or about half of the daily rise in cases in past weeks, while miners accounted for almost 20% of Poland’s total reported cases.
But in the past few days new daily cases reported in the Silesia coal region have fallen to below 100 from above 200 earlier, Sasin said. The health ministry reported 352 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 91 from Silesia. In total, Poland has 31,316 cases, including 1,334 deaths.
“We are convinced the trend will be continued ... We can say that the situation in Silesia has been stabilized,” Sasin said.
The government has reduced operations to minimum at a dozen coal mines for three weeks to curb the virus.[nL8N2DL1I9]
Coal trade unions have criticised the move saying it will lead to effectively closing the mines as the industry faces financial problems amid falling demand for coal and electricity, and rising costs.
Other critics said the mines should have been closed earlier, since coal stockpiles are high.
“After this period of reduced operations the mines will be able to return to normal work,” Sasin said.
The health minister said he might recommend that some parts of Silesia vote remotely in the presidential election on June 28.
Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko and Anna Koper; Editing by Giles Elgood