WARSAW, Poland — Polish authorities have ordered the closure of 12 coal mines for three weeks after hundreds of workers were infected with COVID-19.
The measure announced on Monday comes as coal mines in Poland’s southern mining region of Silesia have become hot spots for the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Deputy prime minister Jacek Sasin said that the measure will take effect on Tuesday and is aimed at suppressing the epidemic. He added that the miners will continue to receive their full pay.
“It is very important for us not to punish the miners economically for the infections at mines that have made us take this decision,” Sasin told reporters.
In some other earlier cases, miners told not to work because of the epidemic saw their wages reduced, increasing their frustration ahead of a presidential election that is crucial to Poland’s governing conservatives.
Poland has so far recorded about 27,000 cases of coronavirus, which is far less than many other European countries. Yet nearly 5,000 of the confirmed cases are coal miners. That is an extremely high infection rate in the sector given that there are just 82,000 miners in the nation of 38 million people.