Poland Weighs Further Curbs to Stem Viral Spread Over Easter

Konrad Krasuski

(Bloomberg) --

Poland is considering further restrictions ahead of the Easter holiday to keep the coronavirus from spreading via traditional family visits, Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said.

Poles have already been under a lockdown for three weeks, with schools, malls and borders closed and social distancing in place. While the government previously predicted a peak in the outbreak by mid-April, crediting its early restrictions, Szumowski said it’s now expected to keep growing over the coming weeks.

With about 3,500 confirmed coronavirus cases, the country is far behind western Europe. But the pandemic has accelerated in recent days, with hospitals a hotbed for new infections.

The government wants to expand testing to more medical centers and increase deliveries of protective equipment from China. It has also moved to expand production of face masks in Polish factories to 100 million a month in June.

The government is expected to decide next week whether to extend the lockdown, with a presidential election scheduled for May 10. The ruling Law & Justice party has rejected calls to introduce a state of emergency and is pushing to conduct the vote via mail, which would require a controversial last-minute change of election law. The parliament will discuss the proposal Monday.

The health minister said he plans to introduce tests that determine who has already been exposed to the virus, alongside diagnostics that reveal current infections. The new but unproven tests, which would show who may have developed immunity to the pathogen, could aid with plans to exit from the lockdown.

The government is not considering shutting factories as was done in Italy, Development Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz said via Twitter. Instead, it is monitoring supply chains and considering measures that could slow the outbreak without further damage to the economy.

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