Poland will need tighter COVID curbs if cases do not fall, says minister


WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland will have to tighten COVID-19 restrictions if it does not see daily cases decreasing in the near future, the health minister said on Wednesday, after infections surged to their highest level of the fourth wave of the pandemic.

While some European countries like Austria and Slovakia are once again imposing stricter regulations, Poland has stressed the importance of enforcing current rules about masks and social distancing rather than implementing tougher curbs.

“In the case where we do not have signals that say that we are reaching the peak and cases will fall … we will have to increase restrictions,” Adam Niedzielski told a news conference, adding that he thought cases would likely peak in the next week and a half.

Poland reported 28,380 daily COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the health ministry said, a record for the fourth wave of the pandemic. The ministry also reported 460 deaths.

Neighbouring Slovakia ordered a two-week lockdown to quell the world’s fastest rise in COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, following the example of Austria.

Niedzielski said increased restrictions in Poland would involve lowering limits for how many people are allowed in places like cinemas and lowering the number of people allowed at public gatherings.

Poland, a country of around 38 million, has reported 3,406,129 cases of the coronavirus and 81,688 deaths in total. Only about 54% of Poles are vaccinated against COVID-19, significantly lower than the EU average.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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