A paramedic transports a COVID-19 patient at a hospital in Warsaw, Poland December 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel -/File Photo
A northeastern region of Poland famed for its lakes, forests and sailing will see a raft of COVID-19 restrictions brought back from Saturday after it became a hotspot for infections, the government said.
The sparsely-populated Warminsko-Mazurskie region’s soaring number of cases has left specialists searching for explanations.
Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told a news conference that public spaces such as shopping centres, hotels, cinemas and museums would close and children in the first three years of primary school would return to remote learning.
“We decided we had to take a small step back,” he said.
The measures will be in place initially for two weeks.
Poland has loosened some curbs nationwide, opening ski slopes as well as cinemas, hotels and theatres up to 50% capacity, but authorities say the measures may have to be rolled back as cases rise again.
On Wednesday, Poland reported 12,146 new coronavirus cases, 970 of which were in the largely rural Warminsko-Mazurskie region with a population of around 1.4 million.
The region’s infection rates per 100,000 people are more than double the national average. Poland’s total cases stand at 1,661,109 with 42,808 deaths.
Warminsko-Mazurskie looks to have been affected by the more contagious British variant, with local sanitary authorities saying on Tuesday it showed up in about 70% of a random sample of 24 positive test results.
Nationwide, authorities estimate the British variant accounts for more than 10% of cases.
Niedzielski also said that travellers from the Czech Republic and Slovakia would have to go into quarantine when entering Poland if they did not have a negative test result.
He said that people would no longer be allowed to wear protective face shields or scarves instead of masks.
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