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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland confirms 7,192 new coronavirus cases, 309 more deaths

22.12.2020 10:40
Poland on Tuesday reported 7,192 new coronavirus infections and 309 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 1,214,525 and fatalities to 25,783.
Coronavirus in Poland: A temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients in the city of Płock, 110 km northwest of Warsaw.
Coronavirus in Poland: A temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients in the city of Płock, 110 km northwest of Warsaw.Photo: PAP/Szymon Łabiński

Of the new cases confirmed on Tuesday, 884 were in the central region of Mazowieckie, which includes the national capital Warsaw.

Meanwhile, 768 new infections were reported in the north-central province of Kujawsko-Pomorskie, which is home to the historic city of Toruń.

The southern coal mining region of Silesia had the third-highest number of new infections confirmed by officials on Tuesday, at 719.

The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 237 people with pre-existing medical conditions and 72 who died directly because of COVID-19, the Polish health ministry said in a tweet.

On MondayPoland confirmed 77 deaths and 4,633 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with 143 deaths and 8,594 fresh cases a day earlier.

On November 25, the country reported its highest daily toll of 674 deaths related to the coronavirus.

On November 7, the Polish health ministry confirmed 27,875 new single-day cases, the most since the pandemic hit the country in early March.

18,521 in hospitals, 163,030 quarantined

The health ministry announced on Tuesday morning that 18,521 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 1,673 of them on ventilators, with a further 163,030 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure, and 9,023 under epidemiological supervision.

Meanwhile, 954,272 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, including 8,255 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry also said.

Poland to go into 'national quarantine' Dec. 28-Jan. 17

Poland will enter a national quarantine from December 28 to January 17 as it struggles to contain the coronavirus, the government announced last week.

The country’s health minister said that shopping malls would have to close during that period, though grocery stores and pharmacies would be exempt.

Hotels and ski slopes will also be shut, and a curfew will be imposed on New Year's Eve, with restrictions on free movement, officials said.

Anyone arriving in Poland by public transportation between December 28 and January 17 will have to undergo a 10-day quarantine.

Second wave hits hard

The new set of curbs comes after tougher measures to battle COVID-19 took effect across Poland last month following a surge in cases amid a second wave of the pandemic.

As part of those restrictions, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries and gyms were told to close temporarily.

Meanwhile, 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.

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 are being monitored remotely from their homes using special finger-clip devices called pulse oximeters, under an initiative announced by the country’s health minister at the end of last month.

Warnings of 'third wave'

Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told the media at the end of last month that Poland was preparing to handle a possible "third wave" of the coronavirus pandemic early next year.

Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski warned this month that "the spectre of a third wave is very real."

Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski. Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

With 607 COVID-19 deaths per million population, Poland remains less affected by the coronavirus epidemic than some other countries in Europe, recent statistics have shown.

To compare, Belgium has 1,546 deaths per million residents since the start of the pandemic, according to data released by the Polish health ministry on December 15, while Italy has 1,076 and Spain reports 1,027.

Vaccines on the horizon

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday recommended conditional approval for a coronavirus vaccine produced by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for use across the European Union.

The decision by the EU regulator was later in the day greenlighted by the bloc’s executive, the European Commission.

The Commission's chief Ursula von der Leyen tweeted that the vaccine would be available to all EU countries "at the same time, on the same conditions."

Von der Leyen has previously said that COVID-19 vaccinations would begin in EU countries from December 27.

The Polish prime minister's top aide, Michał Dworczyk, announced on Monday that the first batch of vaccines would arrive in Poland on Saturday, December 26, and the first 10,000 citizens would be inoculated a day later.

Michał Dworczyk, the Polish PM’s chief of staff.
Michał Dworczyk, chief of staff to Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Photo: PAP/Maciej Kulczyński

First in line to be vaccinated is healthcare staff, followed by pensioners in care homes, people over 60 (with the oldest given priority), police, soldiers and teachers, officials have said.

Poland plans to spend PLN 3 billion (EUR 675m, USD 820m) on over 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccines under a national inoculation programme adopted by the government.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced earlier this month that his government had secured vaccines for the Polish population from six leading international drug makers.

Around 8,000 vaccination sites are planned to be opened nationwide as the country prepares to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination programme.

Photo: Photo: PAP/EPA/BIONTECH SE/HANDOUT

The European Union, of which Poland is part, has struck deals to secure vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTechAstraZenecaModernaCureVacSanofi-GSK, and Johnson & Johnson, taking its potential stock of COVID-19 shots to nearly 2 billion, news agencies have reported.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to produce a scientific opinion on Moderna's vaccine seeking regulatory approval on January 6.

Britain on December 2 became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for general use, with the first shots administered to citizens six days later.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info, Reuters