POLAND NEWS

Poland Confirms 11,267 New Coronavirus Cases, 483 More Deaths

WARSA, Dec 19, 2020:: 2020Poland on Saturday reported 11,267 new coronavirus infections and 483 more deaths, bringing its total number of cases to 1,194,110 and fatalities to 25,254. Coronavirus in Poland: A huge storage tank with liquid oxygen for COVID-19 patients outside an infectious diseases hospital in the northern city of Gdańsk.Photo: PAP/Adam Warżawa of the new cases confirmed on Saturday, 1,383 were in the central region of Mazowieckie, which includes the national capital Warsaw.

Meanwhile, 1,197 new infections were reported in the western province of Wielkopolskie, which is home to the major city of Poznań. The north-central province of Kujawsko-Pomorskie, which contains the historic city of Toruń, had the third-highest number of new infections confirmed by officials on Saturday, at 1,114. The latest deaths in Poland’s coronavirus outbreak are 375 people with pre-existing medical conditions and 108 who died directly because of COVID-19, the Polish health ministry said in a tweet.

On Friday, Poland confirmed 426 deaths and 11,013 new coronavirus infections nationwide, compared with 431 deaths and 11,953 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 in early March.

18,342 in hospitals, 205,175 quarantined

The health ministry announced on Saturday morning that 18,342 COVID-19 patients were in hospitals nationwide, 1,695 of them on ventilators, with a further 205,175 people quarantined for possible coronavirus exposure, and 10,692 under epidemiological supervision. Meanwhile, 927,723 people have now recovered from COVID-19 throughout the country, including 12,147 over the last 24 hours, the health ministry also said.

Poland to go into lockdown Dec. 28-Jan. 17

The Polish government announced on Thursday that a nationwide lockdown would be introduced from December 28 to January 17 as the country battles the coronavirus epidemic. The country’s health minister said that shopping malls would have to close during that period, though grocery stores and pharmacies would be exempt. Hotels and ski slopes will also be shut, and a curfew will be imposed on New Year's Eve, with restrictions on free movement, officials said. Anyone arriving in Poland by public transportation between December 28 and January 17 will have to undergo a 10-day quarantine.

Second wave hits hard

The new set of curbs comes after tougher measures to battle COVID-19 took effect across Poland last month following a surge in cases amid a second wave of the pandemic. As part of those restrictions, theatres, cinemas, museums, galleries and gyms were told to close temporarily. Meanwhile, schools and universities throughout the country have returned to distance learning. Under restrictions announced in October, children under 16 are only allowed to leave their homes under the supervision of an adult between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, pubs, restaurants and cafes are only allowed to provide take-aways and delivery orders. Gatherings of more than five people have been forbidden, though people who live or work together are exempt from the rule. Also, the government has appealed to people aged over 70 not to leave their homes unless necessary. Poland in October introduced special shopping hours for people aged over 60 between 10 a.m. and noon. Beginning October 10, people must cover their mouths and noses when outdoors in public places as well as in most indoor environments nationwide.

Amid an escalating outbreak, the country has decided to set up a network of temporary hospitals to treat coronavirus patients. Meanwhile, those testing positive for COVID-19 are being 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 last month.

Warnings of 'third wave'

Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told the media at the end of last month that Poland was preparing to handle a possible "third wave" of the coronavirus pandemic early next year. Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski has warned that the chances of the country being hit by a third wave of the coronavirus will be greater if people do not spend the winter school break at home. Niedzielski said this week that "the spectre of a third wave is very real." Poland's Health Minister Adam Niedzielski. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

With 607 COVID-19 deaths per million population, Poland remains less affected by the coronavirus epidemic than some other countries in Europe, recent statistics have shown. To compare, Belgium has 1,546 deaths per million residents since the start of the pandemic, according to data released by the Polish health ministry on Tuesday, while Italy has 1,076 and Spain reports 1,027.

Vaccines on the horizon

Poland plans to spend PLN 3 billion (EUR 675m, USD 820m) on over 60 million doses of coronavirus vaccines under a national inoculation programme adopted by the government on Tuesday. The first vaccines are expected to arrive in Poland by the end of this year, according to officials. First in line to be inoculated will be healthcare staff, followed by pensioners in care homes, people over 60 (with the oldest given priority), police, soldiers and teachers, officials said. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on December 8 that his government had secured vaccines for the Polish population from six leading international drug makers.

The country is preparing to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination programme and planning around 8,000 vaccination sites nationwide, according to the Polish prime minister's top aide, Michał Dworczyk. "We want there to be a vaccination point in every district," Dworczyk told public broadcaster Polish Radio on Friday, December 4. The European Union, of which Poland is part, has struck deals to secure vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Moderna, CureVac, Sanofi-GSK, and Johnson & Johnson, taking its potential stock of COVID-19 shots to nearly 2 billion, news agencies have reported.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to produce a scientific opinion on Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine seeking regulatory approval on December 21, while a decision on Moderna's vaccine is scheduled to be announced on January 6. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in EU countries from December 27. "It’s Europe’s moment. On 27, 28 and 29 December vaccination will start across the EU,” von der Leyen tweeted on Thursday. 

It's Europe's moment. On 27, 28 and 29 December vaccination will start across the EU. Meanwhile, Britain on December 2 became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for general use, with the first shots administered to citizens early last week.