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UPDATE: Poland tightens restrictions amid record surge in epidemic

04.11.2020 15:30
Poland’s prime minister on Wednesday announced a swathe of new restrictions aiming to curb an escalating COVID-19 epidemic as both new infections and deaths hit a record
Audio
PM Mateusz Morawiecki.
PM Mateusz Morawiecki. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

Mateusz Morawiecki appealed to Poles to stay at home, for employees to work remotely, and for protesters opposed to a tightening of abortion laws not to take to the streets.

“Feel free to protest, but online,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told reporters that Poland could see 25,000 to 30,000 new coronavirus cases a day, adding that was an “optimistic scenario.”

Niedzielski warned that Poland’s health-care system was near the limit of its capacity.

Poland on Wednesday reported an all-time high of 24,692 new coronavirus infections and a record 373 new deaths, its worst daily toll since the start of the pandemic.

'Extremely difficult time ahead'

Morawiecki told Wednesday’s press conference: "It seems that November will be one of the most difficult months, the most difficult moments of the pandemic. So we have an extremely difficult time ahead, the pandemic is getting worse, and our response must be firm.”

He said that from Saturday shops in shopping malls would have to close though there would be exceptions, including grocery stores, pharmacies and drugstores.

Hotels will only be able to take in guests on business trips. Theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries will be temporarily closed.

Younger primary school children will be taught remotely, Morawiecki said. Up to now they have been attending school in person. Secondary schools and universities throughout the country have already switched to distance learning.

Spectre of ‘national quarantine’

Morawiecki warned that if the number of coronavirus infections exceeded 70 to 75 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a “national quarantine” would be announced, with “very strict bans on travel and movement”.

Health Minister Niedzielski told reporters that “even in an optimistic scenario, we see stabilization of the number of illnesses taking place at 25,000 to 30,000 cases a day.”

The stricter new rules come into force on Saturday and will last at least three weeks. Remote classes for younger children will kick in on Monday.

(pk)

Source: IAR/PAP

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