Health minister: new COVID restrictions from Wednesday
Poland said on Monday it would ban flights to seven African countries, extend the quarantine period for some travellers and reduce limits on numbers allowed into places like restaurants, amid concerns over the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
"We must appreciate the importance of this phenomenon and the risk that a new mutation emerging poses," Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference, labelling Omicron a potential "game-changer".
The minister announced a new set of coronavirus restrictions that will be effective starting Wednesday, December 1.
According to the latest decision, flights to 7 African countries have been banned, while people returning from those countries will be placed in a 14-day quarantine, without an option of it being lifted after negative test result.
Niedzielski also informed that people coming to Poland from outside of the Schengen zone will also be placed in a 14-day quarantine, but with an option of being released after 8 days and having a negative test result. "These decisions can be changed in accordance with future developments," he said.
The new measures will be in effect from December 1-17.
Polish authorities had earlier said the country was approaching the peak of its fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, but the emergence of the Omicron variant has muddied the outlook for the course of the pandemic.
The country will also tighten restrictions on the number of people allowed in places like restaurants and cinemas, reducing the limit to 50% of full capacity, not counting people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Poland has reported no cases of the Omicron variant as yet, but confirmed cases have been reported in neighbouring Germany.
The Omicron variant of coronavirus carries a very high global risk of surges, the WHO warned on Monday, as more countries reported cases, prompting border closures and reviving worries about the economic recovery from a two-year pandemic.
Scientists have said it could take weeks to understand the severity of Omicron which was first identified in southern Africa. Its emergence has caused a strong global reaction, with countries imposing travel curbs and other restrictions, worried that it could spread fast even in vaccinated populations.
The World Health Organization advised its 194 member nations that any surge in infections could have "severe consequences" but said no deaths linked to the Omicron variant had been reported so far.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Omicron's emergence showed how "perilous and precarious" the situation was and called on health ministers meeting in Geneva to pursue a new accord on pandemics.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters, PAP
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: TVN24