Poland Ordered Prisoners to Produce One Million Masks After Making Them Compulsory

masks
WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Poland’s national-conservative government, which recently made masks compulsory in public places to slow the spread of the Chinese coronavirus, has had prisoners produce one million in a month.

While many left-liberal governments are releasing — or considering releasing — prisoners and detained migrants into the general population amid the coronavirus pandemic, Poland’s government is using them to shore up the national effort against the disease.

Prisoners at 83 penitentiary units are also producing disinfectants and personal protective equipment besides masks, including gowns and shielded helmets.

“The work in prison facilities, which in the course of the last month has yielded over a million protective masks, thousands of overalls… shows that the campaign and the ‘Work for Prisoners’ programme makes great sense,” remarked the Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, in comments reported by TVP.

Poland made masks compulsory in public from April 16th, following the lead set by its Visegrád Group (V4) allies in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Poland is also harnessing the labour of hundreds of small-scale garment makers across the country through the Polish Sewing Rooms initiative, which aims to turn out 100 million masks.

Early on in the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) and medical technocrats in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere claimed masks were only effective for frontline health workers and people diagnosed with the virus — contradicting the experience of countries in the Far East such as Japan and South Korea.

All have now U-turned on the subject, however, accepting that even simple homemade masks can indeed offer some protection by diverting airflow and catching the water droplets with carry the virus — but, more importantly, by preventing carriers who are not yet symptomatic (or who never become symptomatic) from spreading the disease to others.

Some virologists have also suggested that masks are important in reducing the initial “viral load” even if they do not prevent wearers from contracting the disease entirely, which can be the difference between a mild infection or a severe or even deadly one.

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