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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Highest tally this year as Poland confirms 17,260 new COVID-19 cases

10.03.2021 10:40
Poland on Wednesday reported 17,260 new coronavirus infections, the highest tally this year, and 398 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases during the pandemic to 1,828,313 and fatalities to 45,997.
Coronavirus in Poland: A temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients in the southwestern city of Wrocław.
Coronavirus in Poland: A temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients in the southwestern city of Wrocław.Photo: PAP/Maciej Kulczyński

Of the new cases confirmed on Wednesday, 2,596 were in the central region of Mazowieckie, which includes the national capital Warsaw.

Meanwhile, 2,452 new infections were reported in the southern coal mining region of Silesia.

The neighbouring province of Małopolskie, which is home to the historic city of Kraków, had the third-highest number of new infections confirmed by officials on Wednesday, at 1,497.

The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 309 people with pre-existing medical conditions and 89 who died directly because of COVID-19, the Polish health ministry said.

On Tuesday, Poland confirmed 282 deaths and 9,954 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with 32 deaths and 6,170 fresh cases a day earlier.

On November 25, the country reported its highest daily toll of 674 deaths related to the coronavirus.

On November 7, the Polish health ministry confirmed 27,875 new single-day cases, the most since the pandemic hit the country last March.

Poland's first case of coronavirus infection was reported on March 4, 2020.

18,378 in hospitals, 245,202 quarantined

The health ministry announced on Wednesday morning that 18,378 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 1,902 of them on ventilators, with a further 250,598 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure.

Meanwhile, 1,507,905 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, including 4,552 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry also said.

HOW THE EPIDEMIC UNFOLDED IN POLAND – KEY POINTS

Stricter rules on face masks, border crossing

Under a new set of coronavirus restrictions that took effect on February 27, Poles are no longer allowed to use scarves, bandanas and plastic visors instead of masks to cover their face in public.

Meanwhile, anyone crossing Poland’s southern border with the Czech Republic and Slovakia has to go into quarantine unless they have received two doses of a vaccine, or a test carried out in the last 48 hours shows they do not have the coronavirus.

Regional curbs

In another move designed to counter a recent spike in cases, a range of restrictions on public life were reintroduced in the Warmińsko-Mazurskie region of northeastern Poland, where the level of infections has caused concern.

Hotels, shopping malls, cinemas, theatres, museums and swimming pools there have been ordered to shut, while young schoolchildren in the region have returned to remote classes.

At the end of last week, officials announced that a near-complete regional lockdown would be imposed on the northern Pomerania province from March 13 amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Pandemic restrictions in the rest of the country will remain unchanged until at least March 28 following an easing of containment measures earlier this year, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has said.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski seen on a screen at a virtual press conference on Friday.
Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski seen on a screen during a virtual news conference on Friday, March 5. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Restrictions eased

Amid signs of a letup in the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, Poland in the middle of January reopened schools for young children after a prolonged period of distance learning.

In a further easing of coronavirus curbs, shopping malls, museums and art galleries across the country were allowed to reopen last month.

Meanwhile, restrictions on hotels, entertainment venues and outdoor sports areas including ski slopes were partially lifted on February 12.

A host of other restrictions on public life, including the closure of restaurants and gyms, remain in place, following an announcement last month by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki seen on a screen during a virtual news conference on Friday. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki seen on a screen during a virtual news conference last month. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

'Third wave'

Public health officials have warned that the daily number of new COVID-19 infections in the country is starting to rise again in a worrying new trend.

Health ministry spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz has declared that a third wave of the epidemic has started in Poland.

Under restrictions announced in October, pubs, restaurants and cafes throughout the country remain closed and are only allowed to provide take-aways and delivery orders.

As of October 10, people must cover their mouths and noses when outdoors in public places as well as in most indoor environments nationwide.

Temporary hospitals, remote patient monitoring

Meanwhile, the country has set up a network of temporary hospitals to treat coronavirus patients.

Some of those testing positive for COVID-19 are monitored remotely from their homes using special finger-clip devices called pulse oximeters, under an initiative announced by the country’s health minister at the end of November.

Vaccinations pass 4 million

A 52-year-old Warsaw hospital nurse on December 27 became the first Pole to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced in December that his government had secured vaccines for the Polish population from six leading international drug makers.

The Polish health minister said last month that around 6.7 million coronavirus vaccine doses were expected to reach the country by the end of March, including 4.8 million from Pfizer/BioNTech, 1.15 million from AstraZeneca, and 744,000 from Moderna.

Niedzielski told a news conference last week that Poland had ordered 16 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by US drug maker Johnson & Johnson and that the first shipments were expected to arrive in April.

Poland hopes to vaccinate 60 to 70 percent of its population against the coronavirus by the autumn, Niedzielski has told the media.

On Monday, a fresh supply of around 380,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and a shipment of around 347,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot arrived in Poland by air, Michał Kuczmierowski, head of the Government Strategic Reserves Agency, told the media.

Frontline healthcare workers were first in line to be inoculated in Poland, followed by nursing home residents.

Other priority groups include the elderly, people with chronic health conditions, teachers, police, and soldiers.

Poland in January began administering COVID-19 vaccines to citizens over 70.

On February 12, Poland began vaccinating teachers. Around 590,000 teachers have signed up for the shots and more than 400,000 had been vaccinated by the start of this week, according to officials.

Almost 6,000 vaccination sites are available to citizens as the country rolls out its COVID-19 inoculation programme, according to the prime minister's top aide, Michał Dworczyk, who is spearheading the drive.

The government has announced a plan to roll out 16 mobile COVID-19 vaccination units in an effort to broaden the public's access to coronavirus shots.

Poland originally announced plans to spend PLN 3 billion (EUR 675 million, USD 820 million) on more than 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccines under a national inoculation program adopted by the government.

Dworczyk told reporters last month that Poland had ordered almost 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines in total, enough to inoculate 58 million people, more than its population of around 38 million.

As of Wednesday, a total of 4,086,863 coronavirus vaccine shots had been administered nationwide, including more than 2.6 million first doses and over 1.4 million second doses, according to data released by officials.

'Let's get vaccinated'

At the end of December, the government launched a media campaign called Szczepimy Się (Let's Get Vaccinated) to encourage Poles to get COVID-19 shots.

The immunization effort began after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on December 21 recommended conditional approval for a coronavirus vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech for use across the European Union.

Photo: Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

The decision by the EU regulator was subsequently greenlighted by the bloc’s executive, the European Commission.

Photo:The first vaccines for the coronavirus were administered in Poland on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, as part of a coordinated rollout across the European Union. Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

The European Union, of which Poland is part, has struck deals to secure vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZenecaModernaCureVacSanofi-GSK, and Johnson & Johnson.

The Polish prime minister last month called on the bloc's executive, the European Commission, to use its "economic power and "the strongest instruments" to ensure the timely execution of agreements by international drug makers amid delays in vaccine supplies.

"Europe is a powerful market that has been hard hit by COVID-19," Morawiecki said. "Every day we are all paying a huge price for displaying a weakness toward drug makers. We can't stand aside and watch the next waves of infections engulf us."

W Europie trwa szczepionkowy wyścig z czasem. Dziś nie mamy ani chwili do stracenia. Koncerny farmaceutyczne muszą...

Posted by Mateusz Morawiecki on Thursday, February 18, 2021
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Photo: PAP/Łukasz Gągulski

The European Medicines Agency on January 6 gave the green light to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, the second shot it approved as countries stepped up inoculation efforts amid fears of more contagious strains of the coronavirus.

Photo: Photo: PAP/Jakub Kaczmarczyk

The European medicines regulator on January 29 approved the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine for people over the age of 18, the third coronavirus shot to be cleared for use in the EU.

Photo: Photo: EPA/Sean Gallup

The European Medicines Agency said on February 12 it had launched a real-time review of CureVac's COVID-19 vaccine to speed up potential approvals.

Photo: Photo: PAP/DPA/Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON

The regulator said its human medicines committee would review data from ongoing trials of the German biopharmaceutical firm's vaccine until there is enough clinical data for approval.

CureVac is also working with Britain's GSK to develop a COVID-19 vaccine from next year that could target several variants with one shot, as new, more contagious mutations of the coronavirus have emerged, the Reuters news agency reported.

The European Medicines Agency is on March 11 expected to issue an opinion on whether to approve US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine under a speedy review.

Johnson & Johnson has said it is ready to start distributing the vaccine across the EU in the second quarter of 2021.

 Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Johnson & Johnson's Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: EPA/TIMOTHY D. EASLEY

The Polish health minister has told reporters that the EU drug regulator had opened a fast-track “rolling review” procedure for a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by American producer Novavax.

Officials in Warsaw have announced that domestic biotechnology firm Mabion has struck a deal with the US manufacturer to produce the vaccine in Poland.

The Novavax vaccine has "a realistic prospect of being approved in the second quarter of this year," Niedzielski said on March 3.

Photo: Photo: Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency/PAP/ABACAPRESS

Meanwhile, Polish President Andrzej Duda has talked to China’s leader Xi Jinping about a possible purchase of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine, a top aide said at the start of this month.

Europe's medicines regulator said on March 4 it had started a rolling review of Russia's Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for the potential approval of the shot across the 27-nation bloc, Reuters reported.

Most Poles do not want their government to buy COVID-19 vaccines from either Russia or China, according to a survey.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info, Reuters