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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland confirms 6,919 new coronavirus cases, 443 more deaths

20.01.2021 10:40
Poland on Wednesday reported 6,919 new coronavirus infections and 443 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 1,450,747 and fatalities to 34,141.
Nursing home residents are among priority groups for inoculation as Poland rolls out its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
Nursing home residents are among priority groups for inoculation as Poland rolls out its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.Photo: PAP/Wojtek Jargiło

Of the new cases confirmed on Wednesday, 890 were in the central region of Mazowieckie, which includes the national capital Warsaw.

Meanwhile, 683 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 649.

The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 337 people with pre-existing medical conditions and 106 who died directly because of COVID-19, the Polish health ministry said in a tweet.

On Tuesday, Poland confirmed 291 deaths and 4,835 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with 52 deaths and 3,271 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.

15,324 in hospitals, 184,982 quarantined

The health ministry announced on Wednesday morning that 15,324 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 1,569 of them on ventilators, with a further 184,982 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure, and 5,680 under epidemiological supervision.

Meanwhile, 1,207,359 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, including 10,325 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry also said.

A nation in quarantine

Amid signs of a letup in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Poland on Monday reopened schools for young children after a prolonged period of distance learning.

But although the epidemic appears to have moderated, a host of other restrictions on public life, including the closure of hotels, ski slopes and many retail outlets, will remain in place until at least January 31, officials have announced.

Poland on December 28 went into a "national quarantine" as it stepped up its efforts to contain the coronavirus.

Hotels and non-essential stores were told to close, and a 10-day quarantine requirement was imposed on anyone arriving in the country by public transportation.

That latest set of curbs came after tougher measures to battle COVID-19 took effect across the country in November 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.

Under restrictions announced in October, pubs, restaurants and cafes are only allowed to provide take-aways and delivery orders.

Gatherings of more than five people are forbidden, though people who live or work together are exempt from the rule.

Beginning October 10, people must cover their mouths and noses when outdoors in public places as well as in most indoor environments nationwide.

Temporary hospitals, remote patient monitoring

In an effort to deal with the second wave of the pandemic, the country has set up a network of temporary hospitals to treat coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, those testing positive for COVID-19 are also 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 November.

Warnings of 'third wave'

Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told the media in late November that Poland was preparing to handle a possible "third wave" of the coronavirus pandemic at the start of 2021.

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

With 771 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 1,696 deaths per million residents since the start of the pandemic, according to data released by the Polish health ministry earlier this month, while Italy has 1,253 and the Czech Republic reports 1,137.

Vaccinations under way

Meanwhile, a 52-year-old Warsaw hospital nurse on December 27 became the first Pole to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

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

At the start of last week, a shipment of 360,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by US pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech arrived at Warsaw's Chopin Airport.

On Monday, the latest batch of around 176,000 doses of the vaccine was delivered to Poland, officials announced.

Polish officials have said they expect nearly 6 million coronavirus vaccine doses to reach their country by the end of March.

In the first quarter of this year, around 3 million people are expected to be vaccinated for COVID-19 throughout the country.

Frontline healthcare workers are first in line to be inoculated, followed by nursing home residents, people over 70, police, soldiers and teachers.

Citizens over 80 have been able to sign up for COVID-19 shots since Friday. On January 22, registration will open to those in the 70+ age group. Vaccinations are due to begin three days later.

Meanwhile, younger Polish adults can put their names on a waiting list for a vaccine, but for now there is no timeline on when they will be able to receive a shot.

On Monday, Poland began vaccinating elderly people living in nursing homes.

Around 70,000 nursing home residents are expected to be inoculated in the effort, which is due to run until the end of this week.

Almost 6,000 vaccination sites are expected to be available to citizens as the country rolls out its COVID-19 vaccination programInitially, the government planned to set up around 8,000 such sites nationwide.

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

By January 19, a total of 1,257,300 vaccine doses had been delivered to the country and a total of 495,164 people had received the shots, according to data released by officials on Tuesday.

'Let's get vaccinated'

At the end of last month, the government launched a media campaign called Szczepimy Się (Let's Get Vaccinated) to encourage Poles to get COVID-19 shots.

The immunization effort began after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on December 21 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 subsequently greenlighted by the bloc’s executive, the European Commission.

Photo:The first vaccines for the coronavirus were administered in Poland on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, as part of a coordinated rollout across the European Union. Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

The European Union, of which Poland is part, has struck deals to secure vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZenecaModernaCureVacSanofi-GSK, and Johnson & Johnson, taking its potential stock of COVID-19 shots to around 2.3 billion, according to European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen.

The European Medicines Agency on January 6 gave the green light to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, the second shot it has approved as countries step up inoculation efforts amid fears of more contagious strains of the coronavirus.

The first delivery of 27,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in Poland on January 12.

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.

The UK on December 30 became the first country worldwide to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University as it battles a new, highly contagious strain of the virus.

An 82-year-old British dialysis patient on January 4 became the first person to get the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot outside of a trial.

The European Medicines Agency is expected to authorize the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot for use across the EU on January 29.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info, Reuters