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Poland reports new daily record of 35,143 COVID-19 cases

26.03.2021 10:40
Poland reported a record daily rise in coronavirus infections for the third consecutive day on Friday, confirming 35,143 new cases, the most since the pandemic hit the country more than a year ago.
A temporary hospital for coronavirus patients near Katowice Airport in Pyrzowice, southern Poland.
A temporary hospital for coronavirus patients near Katowice Airport in Pyrzowice, southern Poland.Photo: PAP/Andrzej Grygiel

The death toll increased by 443, according to public health authorities.

A total of 2,189,966 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Poland since the start of the pandemic, and 51,305 have died in connection with the COVID-19 respiratory disease so far, officials said on Friday.

Of the new cases confirmed on Friday, 5,264 were in the central region of Mazowieckie, which includes the national capital Warsaw.

Meanwhile, 5,095 new infections were reported in the southern coal mining region of Silesia.

The western province of Wielkopolskie, which is home to the major city of Poznańhad the third-highest number of new infections confirmed by officials on Friday, at 4,141.

The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 318 people with pre-existing medical conditions and 125 who died directly because of COVID-19, the Polish health ministry said.

On Thursday, Poland confirmed 520 deaths and 34,151 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with 575 deaths and 29,978 fresh cases a day earlier.

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

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

27,779 in hospitals, 461,317 quarantined

The health ministry announced on Friday morning that 27,779 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 2,730 of them on ventilators, with a further 461,317 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure.

Meanwhile, 1,747,223 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, including 24,367 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry also said.

Poland toughens lockdown as cases soar

Poland's government on Thursday announced a range of new COVID-19 restrictions to take effect this weekend as officials reported another record daily rise in infections and the health minister warned the country was "in a crisis situation."

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland was experiencing its most difficult moment in the pandemic, with over 70 percent of hospital beds with ventilators occupied.

He added that Poland's public health service was approaching the limits of its capacity to cope.

Under new rules that will kick in for two weeks from Saturday, large retail outlets and churches will have to admit fewer people, hairdressers and beauty parlours will be shut, while kindergartens will be closed to children apart from those of medics, soldiers, police and firefighters.

Large furniture and home improvement stores will be closed, while sports facilities will only be open to professional athletes.

The new measures were announced after the country went into a partial national lockdown for three weeks from March 20 amid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told reporters last week that restrictions already in force in four regions badly hit by the epidemic would be extended to cover the entire country.

Hotels, cinemas, theatres and sports facilities nationwide have been told to shut, while shopping malls are only allowed to sell essential items.

Meanwhile, young children across the country have returned to remote classes for three weeks.

Before reintroducing nationwide restrictions, Poland last week imposed a partial lockdown on two additional provinces amid soaring coronavirus cases.

Restrictions came into force at the start of last week in the country's central Mazowieckie region, which includes the national capital Warsaw, and in the western province of Lubuskie, where the level of infections has caused concern.

Earlier, a range of restrictions on public life were reintroduced in the northern Pomerania province and in the northeastern region of Warmińsko-Mazurskie amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Schools and universities throughout Poland switched to distance learning last year. Then, following an easing of containment measures, the authorities reopened schools for most young children, though older students continued to attend classes online.

Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski. Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski. Photo: PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik

Strict rules on face masks, border crossing

Under a 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 heading into Poland via its southern borders 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.

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 approach 5.6 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 this month 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 Friday, a fresh supply of around 74,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Poland, according to officials.

On Monday, a shipment of around 507,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot reached the country, Michał Kuczmierowski, head of the Government Strategic Reserves Agency, told reporters.

A day earlier, Poland received about 210,000 doses of a coronavirus vaccine developed by US drug maker Moderna, Kuczmierowski said.

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 on Wednesday began administering COVID-19 vaccines to police officers and military and law enforcement personnel.

Last week, vaccinations started for cancer patients and people suffering from various chronic diseases.

More than 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 Friday, a total of 5,594,790 coronavirus vaccine shots had been administered nationwide, including almost 3.67 million first doses and more than 1.9 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.

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 has reported.

The European Medicines Agency on March 11 approved US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine under a speedy review, raising hopes for stepped-up inoculation in Poland and across the EU.

Johnson & Johnson has said it is ready to start distributing the vaccine across the 27-nation bloc 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 EU drug regulator has 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," the Polish health minister said in early March.

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.


Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info, Reuters