Poland keeps most coronavirus curbs

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Poland will reopen kindergartens and allow open-air sports from April 19, but other restrictions will be extended by a week, the health minister said on Wednesday, after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Poland’s health service has been stretched to its limits by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and Wednesday saw the second-highest number of deaths since the pandemic began.

“This wave is sweeping through hospitals now … we still have a peak in the number of cases that are happening here and now in hospitals,” Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.

He said hotels will remain closed until May 3, the end of the May holiday weekend, with other restrictions extended until April 25.

“From next Monday, children will be able to return to kindergartens and creches,” he said.

Poland implemented nationwide restrictions in mid-March, closing theatres, shopping malls, hotels and cinemas, with even harsher restrictions closing kindergartens and hair salons put in place later that month.

Poland reported 803 COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, second only to the 954 reported after the Easter weekend, which included deaths from more than one day. There were 21,283 daily cases.

Asked about Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, Niedzielski said Poland would use it, in line with the guidance of the European Medicines Agency.

“From the point of view of EMA the benefits are bigger than the risks,” Niedzielski said.

U.S. federal health agencies on Tuesday recommended pausing use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine for at least a few days after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the shot.

Around 120,000 doses of the vaccine were due to be delivered to Poland on Wednesday, state-run news agency PAP reported on Tuesday.

Photo: A worker sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19 at a tram stop in Warsaw, Poland,. EPA-EFE/Mateusz Marek