A total of 1,013,747 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Poland since the pandemic began, and 18,208 have died in connection with the COVID-19 respiratory disease so far, officials announced on Wednesday.
The number of new virus cases rose by 13,855 from the previous day, while the death toll increased by 609, according to public health authorities.
Of the new cases confirmed on Wednesday, 1,626 were in the central region of Mazowieckie, which contains the national capital Warsaw.
Meanwhile, 1,577 new infections were reported in the western province of Wielkopolskie, which is home to the major city of Poznań.
The southern coal mining region of Silesia had the third-highest number of new infections confirmed by officials on Wednesday, at 1,494.
The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 520 people with pre-existing medical conditions and 89 who died directly because of COVID-19, the Polish health ministry said in a tweet.
On Tuesday, Poland confirmed 449 deaths and 9,105 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with 121 deaths and 5,733 fresh cases a day earlier.
On Wednesday, November 25, officials reported 15,362 fresh COVID-19 infections and a record 674 new deaths linked to the coronavirus.
On Saturday, November 7, the Polish health ministry reported 27,875 new single-day cases, the most since the pandemic hit the country in early March.
20,855 in hospitals, 268,256 quarantined
The health ministry announced on Wednesday morning that 20,855 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 2,023 of them on ventilators, with a further 268,256 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure, and 12,283 under epidemiological supervision.
Meanwhile, 622,980 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, including 25,391 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry also said.
Second wave hits hard
Tougher measures to battle COVID-19 came into effect across Poland last month following a surge in cases amid a second wave of the pandemic.
Hotels are only able to take in guests on business trips. Theatres, cinemas, museums and galleries have been told to close temporarily.
The government has announced that restaurants, cinemas, theaters and gyms will remain closed until at least December 27.
Schools and universities throughout the country have returned to distance learning.
Under restrictions announced in October, children under 16 are only allowed to leave their homes under the supervision of an adult between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, pubs, restaurants and cafes are only allowed to provide take-aways and delivery orders.
Gatherings of more than five people have been forbidden, though people who live or work together are exempt from the rule.
Also, the government has appealed to people aged over 70 not to leave their homes unless necessary.
Poland in October introduced special shopping hours for people aged over 60 between 10 a.m. and noon.
Amid a spike in coronavirus cases, strict new rules came into effect in the country earlier this fall under which everyone is required to wear a face covering when going out in public.
Beginning October 10, people must cover their mouths and noses when outdoors in public places as well as in most indoor environments nationwide.
Amid an escalating outbreak, the country has decided to set up a network of temporary hospitals to treat coronavirus patients.
Meanwhile, those testing positive for COVID-19 will be monitored remotely from their homes using special finger-clip devices called pulse oximeters, under a new plan announced by the country’s health minister on Monday, November 30.
Warnings of 'third wave'
Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told the media at the end of last week that Poland was preparing to handle a possible "third wave" of the coronavirus pandemic early next year.
Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski last week warned that the chances of the country being hit by a third wave of the coronavirus would be greater if people did not spend the winter school break at home.
With 453 COVID-19 deaths per million population, Poland remains less affected by the coronavirus epidemic than some other countries in Europe, new statistics have shown.
To compare, Belgium has 1,425 deaths per million residents since the start of the pandemic, according to new data released by the Polish health ministry on Tuesday, while Spain has 964 and Italy reports 920.
Vaccines on the horizon
Poland’s prime minister said last month that millions of vaccines against the coronavirus were likely to reach his country next spring as part of a European deal with drug makers.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on November 13 that his government has set up a working group with experts from US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer amid efforts to make a COVID-19 vaccine available to Poles as quickly as possible.
In mid-November, Morawiecki also talked with executives from global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca as part of efforts to secure a COVID-19 vaccine for Poland, state news agency PAP reported.
The European Union, of which Poland is part, has already struck deals to secure vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, CureVac, Sanofi-GSK, and Johnson & Johnson, taking its potential stock of COVID-19 shots to nearly 2 billion, news agencies have reported.
Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info, Reuters, ecdc.europa.eu