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English Section

Polish president, gov't to discuss new steps to curb COVID-19

04.09.2020 10:55
President Andrzej Duda is set to confer with members of Poland’s government at a special meeting on Friday to discuss steps to tackle the country's coronavirus outbreak ahead of a possible second wave of the pandemic.
The Presidential Palace in Warsaw.
The Presidential Palace in Warsaw.Photo: prezydent.pl

The meeting, known as a Cabinet Council, is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at the presidential palace in Warsaw.

Krzysztof Szczerski, chief of staff to the Polish president, told reporters this week that Duda wanted government ministers to brief him on planned measures to fight COVID-19 as autumn approaches.

“We have a new health minister, and we have also entered a new school year, and at the same time the fall is coming, raising concerns over a possible double impact of the flu season and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic," Szczerski said.

He added that topics "worth addressing at this point" also included the shape of the economy after the first two quarters of the year, “including the very difficult second quarter, with a significant decline in GDP."

Polish President Andrzej Duda (right) and senior aide Krzysztof Szczerski (left). Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak Polish President Andrzej Duda (right) and senior aide Krzysztof Szczerski (left). Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak

The Polish economy contracted 8.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, the country’s Central Statistical Office (GUS) estimated on Monday, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cabinet Council meeting comes after Poland last month reimposed stricter COVID-19 measures in some of its worst affected areas amid a spike in infections.

On August 21, Poland's public health authorities reported a record daily rise of 903 new coronavirus infections nationwide, the most since the pandemic hit the country in early March.

By Thursday, Poland had reported a total of 69,129 coronavirus infections and 2,092 deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory disease.

National health service chief Adam Niedzielski in the middle of last week took over as Poland’s new health minister, following a swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace.

'Flexible risk management'

Niedzielski told reporters on Thursday that his ministry had developed a strategy to deal with a possible second wave of the coronavirus epidemic in the fall.

The approach will be based on "flexible risk management," he said, with an increased role for primary care providers and a larger number of drive-through testing sites.

Niedzielski stressed the role of prevention, including disinfection, social distancing and face masks, while also urging mass vaccination against the flu.

Polish Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska said last month that citizens were well advised to get vaccinated against the flu, especially as it caused symptoms similar to COVID-19.

He told a news conference at the time that a combination of a busy flu season with an increased incidence of COVID-19 cases could place an excessive strain on the country’s health service, making it difficult for doctors to distinguish between the two diseases due to similar symptoms.

Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski (left) and Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska (right) talk to reporters at a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski (left) and Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska (right) talk to reporters at a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Meanwhile, some warned of an increased risk of viral transmission after Poland reopened most of its schools to students when the summer break ended and a new school year began on Tuesday.

Education Minister Dariusz Piontkowski has said that, after a prolonged period of distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, traditional in-person classes will be reinstated in most schools nationwide during the new school year.


Source: IAR