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Poland detects seven cases of new COVID-19 variant: health minister

31.01.2023 13:30
Poland has recorded seven cases of a significant new subvariant of the coronavirus, known as XBB.1.5, or the Kraken, the country’s health minister has said.
Adam Niedzielski.
Adam Niedzielski.PAP/Szymon Łabiński

Adam Niedzielski made the announcement in a media interview published on Tuesday. 

He told the wp.pl website: “We have detected the first seven cases of the XBB.1.5 subvariant of the coronavirus, popularly known as the Kraken.”

Niedzielski added: “However, for now COVID-19 doesn’t pose a danger to Poland, even in its XBB.1.5 version.”

'We’re not seeing a heightened threat for Poland'

Niedzielski said in the interview that his ministry was monitoring the situation in countries with a higher incidence of XBB.1.5, including Britain and the United States, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

He told wp.pl: “As of today, we’re not seeing a heightened threat for Poland, just as the European Union’s European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is not seeing a heightened threat for Europe.”

Niedzielski said that the Kraken was “spreading faster than other Omicron subvariants,” but added that in a large majority of cases, the new subvariant “doesn’t cause severe symptoms.”   

He stated: “And this is a crucial piece of information for us, although the ministry’s special task force on infectious diseases is meeting all the time and the Kraken is being discussed.”  

“We’re not forgetting about COVID-19, but we have other challenges to tackle," Niedzielski also said.

New wave of flu and COVID-19 cases in March?

Meanwhile, Niedzielski’s deputy Waldemar Kraska said on Tuesday that March might bring another peak in COVID-19 and flu infections. 

Kraska told public broadcaster Polish Radio: “According to the latest forecasts, a new wave of flu infections may happen in early March. But this is also when COVID-19 cases may surge again. These two infectious diseases may coincide.”

Kraska added that "for now these are merely predictions."

He told Polish Radio: “Hopefully they won’t come true, but it’s also a time when we should still consider getting vaccinated.”

He announced that the number of COVID-19 cases had increased by more than 40 percent compared with the week before, “mainly due to new Omicron subvariants, including the Kraken.”      

Kraska said that 12 people had died of COVID-19 nationwide in the previous 24 hours.

He reiterated that “the good news is that the Kraken subvariant doesn’t cause severe symptoms.”

Poland last month rolled out COVID-19 vaccination for the youngest children. 

In November, the Polish health minister announced that mask wearing would remain compulsory in hospitals, clinics and pharmacies nationwide at least until the end of March to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

In September, Poland began administering second COVID-19 booster shots to people aged over 12.


Source: IAR, PAP, tvp.info