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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland reports 12,361 new coronavirus cases, 472 more deaths

23.12.2020 10:40
Poland on Wednesday reported 12,361 new coronavirus infections and 472 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 1,226,883 and fatalities to 26,255.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is seen on a TV screen as he briefs the media during a visit this week to a Warsaw hospital where the first Pole is expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on December 27.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is seen on a TV screen as he briefs the media during a visit this week to a Warsaw hospital where the first Pole is expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on December 27.Photo: PAP/Mateusz Marek

Of the new cases confirmed on Wednesday, 1,509 were in the central region of Mazowieckie, which includes the national capital Warsaw.

Meanwhile, 1,391 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 1,269.

The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 368 people with pre-existing medical conditions and 104 who died directly because of COVID-19, the Polish health ministry said in a tweet.

On TuesdayPoland confirmed 309 deaths and 7,192 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with 77 deaths and 4,633 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.

17,794 in hospitals, 176,634 quarantined

The health ministry announced on Wednesday morning that 17,794 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 1,639 of them on ventilators, with a further 176,634 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure, and 9,130 under epidemiological supervision.

Meanwhile, 965,178 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, including 10,906 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 673 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 1,604 deaths per million residents since the start of the pandemic, according to new data released by the Polish health ministry on Tuesday, while Italy has 1,146 and Spain reports 1,053.

Vaccinations to start Dec. 27

Meanwhile, officials have announced that the first Pole will be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Sunday, December 27.

The Polish prime minister's top aide, Michał Dworczyk, has said that the first batch of vaccines will arrive in the country on Saturday and the first 10,000 citizens will be inoculated a day later.

The government plans to launch a broad media campaign that day encouraging Poles to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to Dworczyk.

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

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.

Polish officials said on Tuesday they expected nearly 600,000 coronavirus vaccines to reach their country by the first week of January.

First in line to be vaccinated will be healthcare staff, followed by pensioners in care homes, people over 60, 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