New daily coronavirus infection record. 903 cases on Friday
Poland reported 903 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to the Health Ministry's Twitter account, the highest daily increase since the pandemic began.
The new record comes days after the health minister resigned and as Poland braces for the new school year starting on September 1.
The health ministry data showed the biggest increase in the south of Poland, including the mining region Silesia, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis as many miners caught the disease and mining operations were closed.
But there were also significant rises in central and northern Poland. The health ministry said outbreaks have become more dispersed and mostly stem from gatherings, such as weddings, crowded working places and organised holidays.
Earlier this week Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski resigned from his post, the second resignation in two days from the ministry, which has faced growing criticism for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
The ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) imposed strict restrictions in March to curb the spread of the virus and started easing them in May, which critics said was to encourage Poles to vote in the presidential election.
In July Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki downplayed the infection risks, saying Poles should not be afraid to vote because the novel coronavirus had become a disease "like any other".
Since then the number of daily cases has been rising. The country plans to reopen schools on September 1 despite parents' and teachers' concerns about overcrowded schools in big cities.
"There is no reason to talk about the need to close schools or delay the start of education," a health ministry spokesman said.
The country of 38 million has reported 60,281 cases in all, and 1,938 deaths.
Polish Climate Minister Michał Kurtyka has tested positive for the coronavirus, he said on Thursday, while another minister is ill and in isolation according to his assistant.
"Unfortunately, my second coronavirus test was positive. I feel good. I am in isolation at home with my family," Kurtyka wrote on Twitter.
Polish weekly Wprost said on its website on Wednesday, quoting unnamed sources, that Piotr Naimski, the minister in charge of key energy infrastructure, had been infected with COVID-19.
"The minister is sick and in isolation," Naimski's assistant said in an e-mailed response to Reuters but declined to provide more details, including whether he has coronavirus.
Naimski, 69, and Kurtyka, 47, both took part in talks last week between the government and coal mining trade unions on a restructuring plan for the industry.
The state assets ministry said it turned out later that one of the participants had the coronavirus and so further talks this week had to be cancelled.
Naimski has worked closely with Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling Law and Justice party and Poland's most powerful politician. It is unclear whether the two men have met recently.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters