WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland cannot loosen COVID-19 restrictions yet and people should stay at home over Christmas and New Year to stop the spread of the coronavirus, senior government ministers said on Tuesday.
The country is preparing to start its vaccination programme from mid-January and although the number of daily cases has fallen since a surge in early November, the death rate remains high, often above 500 per day.
“It is true that in the last few weeks the situation is better, but we can’t pretend that we have defeated the virus, that the situation is so good that we can think about changing direction,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference.
He said Poland had budgeted around 3 billion zlotys ($820 million) for vaccination and that this figure would be almost doubled as it gives funds to medical facilities carrying out vaccinations.
With Christmas approaching, Health Minister Adam Niedzielski urged Poles to stay at home over the festive period to avoid an increased infection rate before the vaccinations start.
“We cannot allow that the vaccinations take place when the pandemic escalates, as it will be difficult to organise an efficient vaccination process,” Niedzielski said.
($1 = 3.6578 zlotys)
(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz, Alicja Ptak and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, editing by Ed Osmond)