“We have to treat our own people. But we won't hold anyone by force. However, people should be aware that they will not be able to come back; they will work there and earn that big money that they left for,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying by Poland’s PAP state news agency.
Lukashenko’s comments came after Polish Deputy Health Minister Sławomir Gadomski said in an interview with the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna newspaper that Poland was open to doctors from other countries as it battles a surging epidemic.
Gadomski added that it was realistic to draw medical staff from Poland’s eastern neighbours, mainly Belarus and Ukraine, due to the smaller language barrier.
Poland on Thursday reported a record 27,143 new coronavirus infections. That was the highest daily figure since the epidemic hit the country in March, and prompted fears over whether Poland’s healthcare system will be able to cope.
Protests have been held in Belarus since an August presidential election that the West and the opposition say was rigged.
Critics accuse President Lukashenko of maintaining power by holding fraudulent elections, jailing opponents and muzzling independent media.