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World News

Poland weighs more COVID-19 curbs as infections rise

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish authorities are considering tightening COVID-19 restrictions to combat the pandemic, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Tuesday, but added any steps would stop short of a severe lockdown.

FILE PHOTO: A health worker in a protective suit gives a document to man, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at a test center in front of a hospital in Warsaw, Poland October 27, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

Michal Dworczyk was speaking ahead of the release of official data showing the total number of infections had passed 400,000 after doubling in less than two weeks.

Polish media have reported that new restrictions can be expected on Wednesday, and Dworczyk told private broadcaster TVN24 the government is analysing its options.

The government has already closed gyms, swimming pools, and limited restaurants’ activity to selling food for take away only.

“We do not exclude any scenario, but as far as a hard lockdown is concerned the government will do anything to avoid it, as we know what consequences for the economy it would have,” Dworczyk said.

Support for the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has fallen in recent opinion polls, as voters are unhappy with how it prepared for the second wave of pandemic. On top of that, thousands have been protesting almost every day against tightening of the abortion law.

Dworczyk said that further solutions would depend on the infection’s dynamics and ability of the health sector to absorb people with infections.

“This is true that the (healthcare) system is on the verge of its efficiency,” Dworczyk said.

The health ministry reported 19,364 new cases on Tuesday, below the record high of 21,897 recorded last Saturday.

The number of infected people since the beginning of the pandemic rose to 414,844, and the total number of deaths rose to 6,102, the ministry said on its Twitter account.

Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Andrew Heavens, William Maclean

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