The first case of the COVID-19 virus in Poland was identified this past week in a middle-age male in Zielona Góra (Western Poland). He is currently isolated and in treatment and, by all reports from the Polish media, is doing well. All known contacts have also been quarantined for the mandatory fourteen days. Of note, there are no missionaries serving in that city.
At the present time, Poland is a low risk area and no further cases have been reported. Although a few missionaries have recently been ill with flu-like symptoms, most have already recovered and are not suspected to have COVID-19. We have reminded the missionaries that they are still subject to the normal flu and other illnesses and, according to our mission medical policy, are to let us know when they are ill so that we can perform a proper evaluation and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Precautionary measures taken within the mission to limit exposure to pathogens have focused on education, good hygiene, recognition of symptoms, and social distancing (being a good global citizen and not contributing to the spread of any illness).
Consequently, we have done and/or are implementing the following strategies/resources :
1) Missionaries have been reminded to follow standard preventive health practices. (Multiple resources have been given to the missionaries regarding these practices).
2) The missionary department is closely monitoring the development and spread of COVID-19 throughout the world and is in close contact with Area Presidencies, area medical advisors, and health professionals. The mission regularly receives updates from the Area Presidency and implements the guidance accordingly.
4) Social distancing: This is the safest thing to do to limit exposure and the chance of contracting an illness from someone else. Missionaries have been instructed to avoid persons who are sick. Young missionaries have been advised not to give blessings to those who are sick nor to visit hospitals.
Although the age group of our young missionaries is one of the least likely to have the disease or develop severe disease, the advice from the experts would be for them to avoid contact. That includes social hugging and shaking hands. The age group most at risk for severe or fatal disease is 60+, especially those with other health problems particularly pulmonary (lung), renal (kidney) or immune deficiency states. Senior missionaries with health issues are advised to be extra cautious.
As noted in the first email I sent, we want to be prepared, vigilant, and cautious but we also want to avoid a state of fear or panic and to keep all of this in the proper perspective moving forward. We will continue to monitor the situation daily and make any necessary adjustments as circumstances require and in accordance with Church and local government instructions. Until then, we will continue to carry on as currently constituted in building the Kingdom of God in Poland.