A total of 49,515 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Poland since the start of the pandemic, with 1,774 deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory disease so far, officials said on Thursday.
The number of new virus cases rose by 726 from the previous day, while the death toll increased by 18, according to public health authorities.
Of the new cases confirmed on Thursday, 137 were in the southern Silesia coal region, where infections have spiked among miners and their families.
Meanwhile, 118 new cases were reported in the neighbouring province of Małopolskie, which includes the historic city of Kraków.
The country's central Mazowieckie region, which contains the national capital Warsaw, had the third-highest number of new infections confirmed on Thursday, at 107.
The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 10 men aged 43 to 91 and eight women aged 56 to 88, the Polish health ministry said in a tweet.
It added that most of these patients had pre-existing medical conditions.
On Wednesday, the Polish health ministry reported 18 deaths and 640 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with six deaths and 680 new cases a day earlier.
The health ministry announced on Thursday morning that 1,913 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 72 of them on ventilators, with a further 102,815 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure, and 9,052 under epidemiological supervision.
Meanwhile, 35,642 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, the health ministry also said.
46 COVID-19 deaths per million
With 46 COVID-19 deaths per million population, Poland remains far less affected by the coronavirus epidemic than many other countries in Europe, according to a set of data released by the country’s health ministry this week.
To compare, Belgium has 849 deaths per million residents, according to new data released by the Polish health ministry on Tuesday, while Britain has 680 and Spain reports 609.
The list of countries severely hit by the coronavirus also includes Italy, with 582 deaths per million population, Sweden with 568, and France with 464, according to the Polish health ministry.
Croatia, the newest European Union member, has a lower proportion of coronavirus deaths than Poland, at 37 per million residents, while the Czech Republic has 36, seven more than Lithuania, and 16 more than Greece, the new data found.
'State of epidemic'
Poland's first SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed by authorities on March 4, while the country's first coronavirus fatality was announced on March 12.
Poland later that month declared a "state of epidemic" and temporarily closed its borders to non-residents in a move to curb the spread of the illness.
International scheduled flights and passenger rail connections were suspended on March 15.
In another effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the government banned public gatherings and closed all pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Health and government officials urged Poles to stay home and practice social distancing.
People were ordered to wear masks or other face coverings when out in public.
Easing of restrictions
Some restrictions were relaxed in late April, and hotels and shopping malls were allowed to reopen in early May as the country moved to the next phase of easing its coronavirus lockdown.
Hairdressers, beauty parlours, restaurants, bars and cafes were allowed to reopen to customers in mid-May.
Poland relaxed face mask rules at the end of May, and it also allowed public gatherings of up to 150 people.
In another move to ease coronavirus measures, the government lifted restrictions on how many people can gather in places such as retail outlets, restaurants and churches though face coverings and social distancing are still required.
Nurseries and preschools throughout the country were given the green light to resume operations.
Poland also reopened outdoor sports areas and allowed football matches to be played behind closed doors in late May.
Culture and entertainment venues as well as indoor sports facilities were allowed to restart their operations from June 6.
Polish football and speedway stadiums reopened to spectators at 25 percent capacity on June 19.
Elementary schools began reopening to young children at the end of May as the country lifted more COVID-19 safety measures.
But most schools at all levels of education stayed shut to students until the end of the academic year on June 26, providing distance learning instead of in-person classes.
Poland reopened its borders with its European Union neighbours last month.
The country reopened its skies for domestic flights on June 1, while some international flights to destinations within Europe were allowed to resume later in the month.
Poland in early July resumed flights to a number of non-European Union countries, including Britain and Canada.
More curbs lifted
The government at the end of last month further eased the country’s coronavirus restrictions, allowing larger crowds at sporting and cultural events.
Sports stadiums were given the green light to host fans up to 50 percent of their normal capacity, up from 25 percent under previous rules.
Poland also relaxed its social distancing measures as of July 25, recommending that people remain 1.5 metres away from others to maintain safety, down from a previous guideline of 2 metres.
Plans for renewed measures after spike
Poland last week reported rising numbers of new coronavirus cases for three days in a row, with infections hitting a previous daily record of 658 on Saturday.
Officials have since warned that some restrictions could be reinstated if cases continue to rise as a result of people flouting public-health guidelines.
Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski told public broadcaster Polish Radio this week that curbs would be reimposed on weddings, which have been linked to multiple outbreaks in recent weeks.
Szumowski told a news conference on Thursday that the government was preparing to reimpose stricter measures in 19 counties with the highest increases in infections.
He also said that Poland could see a further increase in confirmed coronavirus cases during the next several days amid stepped-up testing.
Polish Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski (right) and Deputy Health Minister Janusz Cieszyński (left) brief reporters during a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak
Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info