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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland to switch to remote working as COVID-19 cases soar: health minister

19.01.2022 14:00
Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski on Wednesday said the government would make teleworking mandatory for public-sector employees as the number of daily COVID-19 cases surpassed 30,000.
Polands Health Minister Adam Niedzielski meets with reporters on Wednesday.
Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski meets with reporters on Wednesday.PAP/Tomasz Gzell

“Today we recorded 30,586 infections,” Niedzielski told reporters. “These numbers are very serious and mean that we have entered the fifth wave, which will be growing very dynamically in the coming days.”

He said: "The last two days have brought the sort of increases we haven’t seen so far."

On Tuesday and Wednesday, COVID-19 infections in Poland almost doubled compared with the corresponding days of the previous week, Niedzielski noted.

He announced that the highly transmissible omicron variant was already accounting for more than 20 percent of cases, adding that “the situation is dramatic.”

Niedzielski predicted that next week the daily number of infections nationwide could exceed 50,000, the state PAP news agency reported. 

Remote working compulsory in public sector

Niedzielski also told reporters that the situation “calls for special measures.”

“We have decided to make remote working mandatory in the public sector,” he announced, adding this wouldn’t apply to “tasks which must be performed in the traditional work model.”

He called on private-sector employers to follow suit. 

“For the sake of the staff, for the sake of the epidemic situation in the workplaces, I ask and appeal for the creation of a safe work environment,” he said.

He warned that unless mobility was reduced and opportunities for the transmission of the virus restricted, “then sadly we have to expect a continuation of this very dynamic growth in the number of daily cases.”

At the same time, a new lockdown is “unlikely,” Niedzielski said, adding that the government would “move towards the universal use of COVID-19 certificates" instead.

On Friday, the government will announce a new set of measures, including making coronavirus tests available in every pharmacy, Niedzielski also said.

Moreover, “certain age groups will be able to visit the family doctor in person, rather than receiving a telemedicine check-up," he added.

Fifth wave to crest in late January or early February

“In fact, this new wave is expected to peak in late January or early February, which means in the next couple of weeks, and then gradually subside later next month,” Niedzielski predicted, adding that if the dynamic was less pronounced, the wave could probably crest a month later.

“Everything suggests that this wave will proceed dynamically and possibly end dynamically as well,” he stated, as quoted by PAP.   

Poland on Wednesday reported 30,586 new coronavirus infections and 375 more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the country's total number of cases during the pandemic to 4,373,718 and fatalities to 103,062.

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAP