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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland holds emergency meetings over new COVID-19 strain

29.11.2021 11:30
A Polish task force on COVID-19 research and a special crisis management team were both due to meet on Monday amid concerns over the spread of a new, highly contagious variant of the coronavirus, omicron.
Audio
  • Poland holds emergency meetings over new COVID-19 strain
Some countries have canceled international flights in response to the emergence of the new omicron variant of COVID-19.
Some countries have canceled international flights in response to the emergence of the new omicron variant of COVID-19.Photo: EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON

Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska announced the meetings in a media interview, saying the situation was "very serious" and Poland was "monitoring the new variant closely," the state PAP news agency reported. 

Kraska revealed that the SARS-CoV-2 mutation and genome task-force would convene at 2 p.m. on Monday.

He added that close monitoring was necessary "because the situation with regard to the new strain is dynamic."

Meanwhile, the government's COVID-19 crisis management team was set to gather before noon to assess the threat posed by omicron and what countermeasures should be taken, the PAP news agency reported.

"We are definitely going to weigh up a range of solutions because the situation is different than just two weeks ago," Kraska told reporters. 

The government crisis management team brings together officials from the health ministry, the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (GIS) and the National Institute of Hygiene (PZH), PAP noted. 

Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has instructed the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate to pay special attention to whether any of those infected had been in contact with people returning from South Africa, where the new virus variant was first found.

In a radio interview on Monday, Niedzielski announced that those arriving from countries where omicron had been detected, would be put on compulsory quarantine unless they are vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19.

The government is drawing up a list of such countries, he added. 

Omicron: 'variant of concern'

Omicron is potentially more contagious than previous variants although experts do not know yet if it will cause more severe COVID-19 than other strains, news agencies have reported.

South Africa's discovery of the variant has sparked global concern, a wave of travel bans and curbs as well as fears that it could stall recovery from the pandemic.

Over the weekend, cases were detected in several European countries, including Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Poland's western neighbour Germany.

Poland on Monday reported 13,115 new coronavirus infections and 18 more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the country's total number of cases during the pandemic to 3,520,961 and fatalities to 83,055.

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAP