WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland’s daily coronavirus cases topped 2,000 for the first time on Friday, the latest record in a surge in infections that has raised the possibility that the government will have to bring forward the introduction of new restrictions.
Having weathered the first wave of the pandemic better than most western European neighbours, Poland has seen daily infection rates spike, with more than 1,000 new cases each day over the last week.
The country of 38 million reported 2,292 daily coronavirus cases and 27 deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday, the health ministry’s Twitter account said. In total, Poland has reported 95,773 cases of the coronavirus and 2,570 deaths.
“We should be prepared for the fact that the number of new cases in the near future will remain in the range of 1,500 up to 2,000, or maybe even 2,500 or more cases,” health ministry spokesman Wojciech Andrusiewicz told state run news agency PAP.
He added that if infection numbers continue to rise significantly, “we do not rule out that restrictions will come into force earlier,” he was quoted as saying, without specifying which rules he was referring to.
New restrictions were announced for the worst-affected areas on Tuesday, with the government saying restaurants and bars would have to close by 10 p.m.
Other restrictions included further limits on the number of people who can attend weddings and the obligatory wearing of face masks outside.
While in the earlier stages of the pandemic, infections were concentrated in the industrial south, recent data has shown high infection rates in central and northern Poland as well.
On Thursday, the government updated its list of red and yellow zones – areas that have more cases and therefore tougher restrictions – which will come into effect on Saturday. The zones include the northern cities of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia, as well as the city of Szczecin.
The health ministry said on Thursday that Warsaw was also at risk of being added to the yellow or red zones.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Alison Williams, Barbara Lewis and Louise Heavens)