In an address broadcast by major Polish TV stations, President Andrzej Duda said on Tuesday: "In an emergency, it is important to behave responsibly. We cannot give in to panic, but neither can we expose our fellow citizens to any danger.”
He added: “I ask all my countrymen, all citizens, to remember in the face of the coronavirus threat that only by joint action can we effectively combat it. Our weapons are knowledge, reason and hygiene.”
Duda also appealed to Poles to offer help to vulnerable elderly people, but not to expose them to risk.
Earlier on Tuesday the government said it was banning large public gatherings and introducing extra controls at its eastern borders.
The stepped-up effort to prevent the spread of the virus was announced after a meeting of a government crisis management team and a day after the country moved to institute checks at ports, on trains and at border crossings with Germany and the Czech Republic. Travellers crossing the border were having their temperature checked.
Under special rules that came into force in Poland on Sunday, people suffering from or suspected to have an infectious disease can be ordered to undergo treatment in hospitals.
Duda and other candidates have vowed not to hold large public gatherings as part of their election campaigns in order to avoid spreading the virus. Poland’s presidential elections are due to take place on May 10.
The new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes a disease called Covid-19, was first reported in Wuhan, China. It has now spread to 115 countries.
The first case of coronavirus infection was reported in Poland last week.
On Tuesday evening, the Polish health ministry reported that 220 people with suspected coronavirus infection were in hospitals nationwide, with a further 1,055 quarantined and 9,366 under epidemiological supervision.