WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland is considering new restrictions, including moving some primary students to distance learning, after its total of coronavirus infections doubled in less than three weeks.
On Wednesday, it announced a new daily record of 10,040 new cases, taking its overall total past 200,000, as the lower house of parliament held an emergency session to discuss a bill to help an overwhelmed health system.
“Let’s set aside this weird team of deniers and those who want a total lockdown of the economy. Let’s take the middle way, it’s the safest,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the assembly.
He promised more help for the health system as well as floating partial closures of primary schools for on-site classes.
Government COVID-19 adviser Andrzej Horban told private radio RMF24 that 10,000 new cases a day was the most the health system could cope with.
As of Wednesday, COVID-19 patients occupied 9,439 hospital beds, up 5% in a day, and were using 757 ventilators, up 4%, the health ministry said. It said around 17,000 beds were available in all for COVID-19 patients.
The opposition has criticised the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s response to the crisis and said the bill needed numerous amendments.
“We have found some obvious errors, including one that allows young female doctors to be called in to work in infectious wards the day after giving birth,” said Cezary Tomczyk, parliamentary leader of the biggest opposition party, Civic Coalition.
In an updated budget for 2020, amended to take account of the economic impact of the pandemic, defence spending was increased more than healthcare.
Poland has now recorded 202,579 cases, having passed 100,000 on Oct. 4. Of the total 3,851 deaths, 130 were reported on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Alan Charlish, Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Agnieszka Barteczko and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Kevin Liffey)