Maciek Nabrdalik, photojournalist and 2017 Nieman Fellow, on photographing the coronavirus pandemic in Poland:
“Since March 2020, we’ve been surrounded by a loud noise of political discussions and social response to the safety measures. This assignment took me to a very silent place — a hospital in Western Poland with hastily erected ‘Covid’ wards. The thin walls do not guarantee a proper separation of the contaminated zone and the ‘clean’ one, but they seem to be noise-proof.
With 238 physicians per 100,000 people, Poland has the lowest such ratio in the European Union. The consequence of decades of brain drain.
Outside of those walls, the ‘anonymity’ coming with face masks resulted in the cooling of any casual contacts. Less ‘good mornings’ and ‘thank yous’; no visible smiles. Seeing the two young paramedics taking care of that patient with compassion and kindness was one of the most moving moments I have witnessed since the beginning of the pandemic.
This was Nov, 20. 2020
Over a month before the first person was vaccinated in Poland.”