The Poland Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that the number of patients infected with the novel coronavirus in Poland had reached the 5,000 mark
As of Wednesday morning, the country had recorded exactly 5,000 confirmed cases of infection with Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, with 136 fatalities in total.
Tuesday marked the largest daily increase in fatalities, at 22, and the second-largest daily increase in total cases of the coronavirus at 435. Poland has so far tested nearly 100,000 people.
For almost a month now, public life in Poland had been drastically restricted by measures put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Schools and restaurants had been closed and all gatherings more than two people, banned.
According to the Deputy Health Minister, Waldemar Kraska, the restrictions are set to expire before Easter, but will likely be extended.
However, the ministry recommended that people refrain from visiting their family for Easter, a strong tradition in the Catholic country.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah
Poland apologises after PM fails to observe virus rules
A Polish government spokesman on Monday apologised for Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s failure to observe coronavirus-related social distancing rules in a cafe.
On Friday, Morawiecki posted a tweet showing him sitting at a table with the owners of a cafe in the Silesia region.
They were in close proximity to one another without wearing face masks.
According to the regime put in place after the country’s restaurants were allowed to reopen recently, only families and people who live together are allowed to share a table.
The prime minister’s tweet triggered criticism and mockery.
“The prime minister was misinformed by his staff and for that, I wanted to apologise,” government spokesman Piotr Mueller said.
Poland has been gradually lifting coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks as the number of new cases detected each day remains stable at several hundred.
So far the country has recorded over 21,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and almost 1,000 virus-related fatalities.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
People visit Warsaw Zoo park amid COVID-19 outbreak in Poland
Poland to extend int’l air travel ban until June 6
Poland will extend the ban on international air connections until June 6, and on domestic flights until May 31, the Polish Press Agency reported Friday, citing documents of the Ministry of Infrastructure.
“Due to the epidemic in the Republic of Poland, it is necessary to extend the period of air traffic bans for a further 14 days for international flights and a further 8 days for domestic flights,” said the new regulation prepared by the ministry.
The draft provides that the regulation will enter into force on May 24. It now awaits the signature of the prime minister.
The current regulation of the Council of Ministers on the suspension of all flights will expire on May 23.
Poland’s presidential elections planned for June 28
The Polish government plans to hold presidential elections on June 28 as a later date is precluded due to the expiry date of the current presidential term, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday.
“We want to fulfil our constitutional obligations and conduct these elections in line with the constitution and today we plan to do that on June 28,” Morawiecki was quoted by the Polish Press Agency as saying.
“A later date would not be indicated because afterwards, on August 6, the president’s term ends and later dates that result from the law would mean that announcing the final results or approval of the elections by the Supreme Court would stretch beyond the deadline,” he said.
On the matter of when the State Electoral Commission (PKW) would publish a resolution concerning the elections, the prime minister said analysis were being conducted as to the best time to publish such a resolution.
The PKW stated that in presidential elections scheduled for May 10 there was no possibility to vote and that the Sejm (lower house of the parliament) speaker would announce a new date within 14 days of the resolution being published.
Poland reopens restaurants, bars, cafes, hair salons under rules enforced by sanitary authorities
A waiter wearing a face shield serves coffee in Warsaw, Poland, on May 18, 2020. As the third phase of lifting restrictions, Poland has reopened restaurants, bars, cafes and hair salons on Monday under rules enforced by the sanitary authorities. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/Xinhua)
Poland reopens restaurants, bars, hair salons as virus rules ease
Poland will reopen restaurants, cafes, bars, food courts and beauty salons on Monday, another step in easing coronavirus restrictions.
All reopened facilities will have to adhere to a sanitary regime and observe social-distancing measures.
A limit of one patron per 4 square metres will be introduced in restaurants, bar and cafes.
Nonetheless, it is an easing after weeks in which only take-out and food delivery service were allowed.
Hair salon clients will have to make appointments to avoid crowds in waiting rooms.
Indoor sports halls will reopen on Monday, with a limit on the number of people allowed to enter.
Limits will be increased on the number of people who can use outdoor sport facilities and travel by public transport.
At the weekend, Poland already increased the number of people who can participate in religious services and lifted the obligation to undergo mandatory quarantine for cross border commuters, who pursue medical professions.
In the upcoming stages of lifting coronavirus restrictions, Poland plans, among other things, to allow a partial reopening of schools.
Social-distancing measures as well as an obligation to wear face covering in public are still in place.
To date, Poland recorded more than 18,000 cases of the novel coronavirus and over 900 virus-related fatalities.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Visitors tour National Museum in Warsaw in Poland
Poland’s main opposition party changes presidential candidate
Poland’s main opposition party Civic Platform (PO) on Friday chose Rafal Trzaskowski to replace Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska as new presidential candidate after Kidawa-Blonska announced her quit from Poland’s presidential elections to be held later in the year.
Aged 48, Trzaskowski is the current mayor of Warsaw.
The change comes a nearly week after the elections originally scheduled for May 10 being postponed. The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) accused the PO of falsely citing health reasons of the COVID-19 pandemic and democratic standards to force the postponement.
Incumbent Polish President Andrzej Duda, a former MEP and staunch supporter of PiS and its leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, was polling well among the likely voters. Opinion polls suggested a result of over 50 percent in favor of Duda in the first round if the elections took place as normal, as a large part of opposition supporters had declared that they would not take part in a vote conducted entirely by post, which the government tried to push through. A result above 50 percent would see Duda reelected outright.
More recent polls, however, showed Duda dipping below 50 percent again, making a runoff with the second-placed candidate likely. The new date for the elections has not been announced, but are speculated at the end of June or in early July.
President Duda appoints new acting head of Poland’s Supreme Court
Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday appointed Supreme Court judge Aleksander Stepkowski, as the new acting head of the country’s highest court following the resignation of the previous appointee Kamil Zaradkiewicz.
Zaradkiewicz was appointed acting head at the end of April but stepped down after the general assembly of Supreme Court judges failed to agree on their selection of five candidates for the permanent post of permanent Supreme Court head.
The Supreme Court has been racked by internal division along partisan lines.
So-called old judges, appointed ahead of extensive judicial reforms introduced by governing party Law and Justice (PiS), accused Zaradkiewicz of refusing to put to vote the motions they submitted.
Among the motions was a push to exclude from deliberations judges from a controversial disciplinary chamber, due to its uncertain legal status under Polish and European law.
Some new judges accused longer-serving colleagues of obstructing proceedings. Incoming acting head Stepkowski, also a new judge, has defended Zaradkiewicz’s actions.
Judicial reforms and court independence came to the fore of Poland’s public life after PiS came to power in late 2015.
The party started the implementation of broad judicial reforms, arguing that the inefficient system needs a comprehensive overhaul.
However, critics argue the reforms have been an attempt, sometimes unconstitutional, to control the judiciary.
Critics say that two main judicial institutions in the country, the Constitutional Tribunal and the National Council of the Judiciary, are already under strict political influence of the governing party and fear the same might happen to the Supreme Court.
Edited By: Halima Sheji/Obike Ukoh (NAN)
Poland seeks rescue plan for national airline
The Polish Airlines LOT needs state support to avoid bankruptcy as the company has almost no revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic while having to bear huge costs, the Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Assets Jacek Sasin has said.
“Extra solutions will have to be considered to make sure that the airliner does not fall. The company today practically does not earn, and yet it bears the costs of crew remuneration and servicing of leasing contracts,” the minister said in an interview with Polish daily “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna” on Thursday.
With both international and national flights grounded at least until the end of May, the company bears a monthly cost of 200 million zloty (47 million U.S. dollars), the minister said, adding that help for LOT would definitely have to be significant.
In accordance with European Union regulations, any state assistance for LOT would need to be cleared with the European Commission. A government subsidy for French carrier Air France was approved earlier this month.
Poland further eases coronavirus restrictions, extends ban on int’l flights
The Polish government announced on Wednesday it will further ease economic restrictions meant to contain the coronavirus epidemic.
Some businesses that require physical contact will be allowed to reopen on Monday under a special sanitary regime.
This means that hairdressers and beauty salons, among others, will be able to partly operate from that moment under rules enforced by the sanitary authorities. These include strict maximum numbers of people on the premises, a tight appointment schedule and disinfection of the location and any equipment used.
Restaurants, cafes and bars will be allowed to have a limited number of seated guests inside. The move had been planned as the third of four phases in gradually reopening the economy.
The announcement came after the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Poland reached 17,062, with 180 new cases since Tuesday evening.
Silesia, a southern region known for its sizable mining industry, has been hit hardest by the coronavirus. A recent spike in infections among miners saw numbers rise well above those of Mazovia, the most populous region in Poland which includes the capital Warsaw.
In total, 861 patients in Poland have succumbed to the illness caused by the coronavirus.
While the economy is being reopened, the Polish government has extended a ban on incoming international flights to May 23. Only charter flights, freight and government aircraft are allowed to use Poland’s airports and landing strips.
Poland records highest daily jump in COVID-19 cases: report
Poland’s Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 595 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the country’s total infections to 16,921.
That was the highest daily jump in COVID-19 cases, according to an online story of English channel Poland In run by TVP, the country’s largest television network.
As many as 492 out of the 595 new cases were reported in southern Poland’s province of Silesia, where a growing number of infections have recently been recorded among employees of local mines and in their communities, the report said.
The ministry also reported 28 new fatalities on Tuesday, bringing the country’s death toll from COVID-19 to 839.
Poland’s mining region sees spike in coronavirus cases
The extensive coal mining industry in southern Polish region of Silesia has seen a spike in coronavirus cases since the end of April.
Of the over 16,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Poland, almost 3,800 were registered in the southern voivodeship. That is 1,000 more than the cases in the country’s largest Mazovian voivodeship, where the capital Warsaw is located.
On Monday, the Health Ministry reported 213 new cases in Silesia alone, out of a total of 330 for the entire country. More than half of those cases were workers of coal mines in and around Katowice, the region’s capital.
In total, 600 miners have so far been diagnosed with coronavirus. As a result, sanitary services have conducted a large-scale testing operation among 10,000 miners. Results are expected this week.
The spike in coronavirus cases in Silesia came at a time when the Polish governments started to relax restrictions put in place to contain the virus. Shopping malls, preschools and cultural institutions were allowed to reopen last week under a strict sanitary regime.
According to Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski, Silesia could be exempted from further economic relaxation if the spread continues.
“We will see in the coming days how the situation plays out in Silesia,” he said during a press conference over the weekend. “And then we will decide whether we will differentiate between regions or enact the same policy for the entire country.”
Shopping malls, hotels reopen in Poland
A couple sit on a wall in Warsaw, Poland, on May 7, 2020. Shopping malls and hotels have reopened in Poland as the country’s government lifted additional restrictions which were put in place in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Xinhua/Zhou Nan)
Poland protests after Katyn massacre plaques taken down in Russia
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister on Friday expressed his country’s displeasure after two plaques commemorating the victims of the Katyn massacre were taken down from the facade of the former Headquarters of the Soviet secret police.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Piotr Glinski, who doubles as Culture Minister, however, expressesd displeasure over the incident.
“It is unfortunate and we will decidedly protest against that,” he said.
The plaques were taken down on Thursday in the city of Tver, located about 160km North-West of Moscow.
Initially blaming the massacre on Nazi forces, only in 1990 did Moscow acknowledge that the order to kill the Poles was given by former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
In its account of the 20th century, Russia is returning to a Stalinist narrative, the Head of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance.
In Poland, the end of World War II was bittersweet as the country became subjugated to the Soviet Union.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said: “Seventy-five years ago, we hoped to regain freedom, but the Red Army remained on Polish soil for nearly 50 years.
“Let us remember all the victims and forgotten heroes of these inhuman regimes,” Morawiecki said.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Ijeoma Popoola (NAN)
Poland’s governing party tries to close ranks ahead of crucial vote
Polish Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin on Monday warned that lawmakers who do not support conducting next weekend’s presidential election by postal vote would find themselves out of the governing majority.
However, Lower house lawmakers would have to decide on its fate possibly on Thursday.
Sasin added that those who do not show loyalty to the bill by way of supporting it would have to leave the governing majority party and chose another political party.
However, some members of Porozumienie (Agreement), a faction within the parliamentary caucus of governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, reportedly opposed the bill.
The leader of Porozumienie, Jaroslaw Gowin, had resigned from the government because of the issue, stating that holding an election on Sunday as scheduled would pose a threat to public health.
Also, the postal vote idea was heavily criticized in the country amid concerns that a hastily introduced procedure might not meet democratic standards.
However, if enough Porozumienie lawmakers vote against or abstain, PiS might fall short of a majority to introduce a postal vote.
According to the current legal framework, the election is scheduled for Sunday, but holding the election on that date is unlikely.
“At this point we have to say it outright. It is a deadline that will be hard to meet. We have to also blame long proceedings in the opposition-controlled Senate.
“The opposition majority in the Senate decided to torpedo the presidential election,” Sasin said.
The bill was adopted by the lower house in a matter of hours on April 6, but has since been debated by the Senate.
The upper house will likely use the entire 30-day period the constitution gives it to debate a bill and send it back to the lower house, which has the final say, only on Wednesday.
If introduced, the postal vote bill would allow the vote to be postponed slightly, likely until May 17 or May 23.
If the bill is rejected, Poland would have to hold a traditional ballot on Sunday. However, preparations for a traditional election have stalled and it could prove impossible to organize at such short notice.
One of the ways of legally postponing the election would be to introduce a state of natural disaster, a solution favoured by the opposition.
According to commentators, PiS is pushing for a May election as it fears that, once economic effects of lockdown are felt, high support for incumbent Andrzej Duda may evaporate, making it difficult for Duda to secure a second term.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Poland to lift additional coronavirus restrictions, malls, hotels and preschools to reopen
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Wednesday that his government will lift additional restrictions next Monday which were put in place to contain the COVID-19 epidemic.
Starting from Monday, malls will be allowed to function again, with cinemas and gyms as exceptions. Businesses are, however, required to follow strict sanitary and distancing rules. The same goes for cultural institutions, including libraries and museums, which are allowed to open to the public from Monday.
Hotels and hostels are also included in the businesses which are allowed to operate in what is the second stage of gradual opening of the Polish economy and society. The first stage, which went in effect on April 20, saw parks open for the public again, as well as increases in the number of customers retailers could allow on their premises at one time.
In addition, preschools and nurseries are allowed to function again from May 6 under strict sanitary rules, with local authorities allowed to put additional restrictions in place on the number of children in a room at one time. As not all facilities will be able to be opened because of this, parents that cannot go to work will still be eligible for government aid.
Poland has been in lockdown since March 13, with borders closed to foreigners.
Morawiecki appealed to Poles not to get complacent in the face of the pandemic. “We are opening up the economy, but we are not relaxing our safety measures by one inch,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday. He added that they waited to open hotels and hostels until after May Day on purpose to discourage Poles to travel during the May Day weekend.
Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski added that the requirement to cover nose and mouth in public spaces will remain in place. “I cycled to work yesterday, and I saw an enormous amount of people on the street who were either not wearing a mask at all, or wore it below their mouths,” he said. “That is not courage, nor showing defiance in face of the virus. That is underestimating the risk of infecting others.”
The Health Ministry announced on Wednesday that 12,415 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 so far in Poland, of whom 606 patients died.
People enjoy spring weather amid COVID-19 outbreak in Poland
People enjoy the spring weather while keeping distance in Warsaw, Poland on April 27, 2020. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/Xinhua)
Poland extends school closure by additional month
The Polish government announced on Friday that schools will remain closed until at least May 24 due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Dariusz Piontkowski, the Minister of National Education said during a press conference that current epidemic conditions do not allow schools, kindergartens and nurseries to resume their activities, hence the government decided to further reduce the activities of these institutions.
“This time we are moving the limitation to a much longer date, until May 24,” he added.
Apart from that, primary school orientation exams and high-school graduation exams, normally scheduled for May, have been moved to the month of June and will be fully written, with oral parts scrapped.
Originally, schools were scheduled to reopen the coming week, but with the epidemic not allaying in the country, there was little doubt the Polish government would opt for an extension. According to the latest data of the Ministry of Health, the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections has risen to 10,759 as of Friday, with 463 deaths.
Poland extends school closure until May 24, moves high school exams
Poland on Friday said it would extend closure of schools, kindergartens and nurseries until at least May 24, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Education Minister Dariusz Piatkowski announced.
Piatkowski, however, said schools would continue to conduct online classes.
“High school final exams will be moved from May to June, starting on June 8, and will take only written form. Primary school final exams will take place in mid-June.
“At the same time, the government is mulling opening some schools to allow them to take care of smaller children. A decision on the matter will be made in the coming days,“ Piatkowski said.
According to the Health Ministry, Poland has so far confirmed 10,759 cases of the novel coronavirus with 463 deaths.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Obike Ukoh (NAN)