Poland enters fifth Covid wave
Poland is experiencing a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections, the health minister said on Monday, warning that the spread of the Omicron variant could send daily case numbers soaring to levels not yet seen in the country.
While daily case numbers have fallen since early December, the European Union’s largest eastern member has had little respite since the fourth wave, regularly reporting over 10,000 new infections per day amid low vaccine take-up and limited restrictions on public life.
“We predict that the peak of infections will be in mid-February and that peak is about 60,000 cases a day,” Adam Niedzielski told a news conference.
The highest number of daily cases reported since the pandemic began was 35,251 on 1 April, 2021.
Niedzielski said that he expected figures released on Tuesday to show in excess of 20,000 daily cases.
On Friday, 13 of the 17 members of Poland’s Medical Council advising the prime minister on Covid-19 resigned, condemning what they said was a lack of scientific influence on policy.
One of the members who resigned, Dr Konstanty Szuldrzynski, told TVN24 on Monday that the death rate in countries where stricter restrictions had been enforced had been lower than in Poland, and that the fifth wave would put the health service under enormous strain.
“We are going into the next wave of Omicron completely unprepared,” he said. “Please remember that the huge death rate in Poland is not just related to the low percentage of vaccinated people but also to the fact that we have a very outdated health system.”
The country of around 38 million has so far reported 4,323,482 cases of the coronavirus and 102,309 deaths.
Hello it’s Samantha Lock with you on the blog today as we unpack all the latest Covid developments from across the world.
I’ll be reporting to you from Sydney and my colleagues from London will take over a little later in the day.
Case numbers are just coming in across Australia this morning, confirming the country has hit a new bleak pandemic milestone. A record 74 deaths have been reported from the country’s two most populous states of NSW and Victoria with 36 deaths and 22 deaths respectively. It’s the highest daily toll of the pandemic for Australia to date.
The Omicron outbreak has continued to push up hospitalisation rates to record levels with more people in hospitals and intensive care than at any other time during the pandemic even as daily infections eased slightly.
On the other side of the world in Poland, the European Union’s largest eastern member says it is currently battling a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections, with cases expected to hit record levels in coming weeks.
Health minister Adam Niedzielski warned that the spread of the Omicron variant could send daily case numbers soaring to levels not yet seen in the country.
“We predict that the peak of infections will be in mid-February and that peak is about 60,000 cases a day,” he told a news conference on Monday.
Here’s a comprehensive run-down of all the latest global developments:
- Covid booster shots will be offered to children in England aged 12 to 15 who are most at risk from coronavirus, NHS England has said. People in England are also now able to end their coronavirus isolation after five full days in the latest change to self-isolation guidance.
- Greece has imposed a vaccination mandate for people over age 60.
- The EU should continue to suspend strict fiscal rules to help debt-mired countries such as Italy until the pandemic is over, the new chairman of the German parliament’s powerful EU affairs committee has said.
- A return to global pre-pandemic employment levels could take years, a UN report revealed.
- French teachers’ unions have called for a second major strike this week to protest the government’s Covid testing and isolation protocols, which they say are severely disrupting classes.
- France’s parliament has given final approval to the government’s latest measures to tackle Covid-19, including a vaccine pass contested by anti-vaccine protesters.
- Uzbekistan has reported 1,037 new daily Covid cases, the highest number on record.
- Kazakhstan reported a record 13,523 cases on Sunday, and the Kazakh government has announced middle and high school students in the country’s three largest cities would study remotely until the end of March.
- The chairman of Credit Suisse, António Horta-Osório, has resigned after the Swiss bank reportedly found that he had broken Covid-19 quarantine laws.
- The number of Covid-19 cases across China reached the highest level since March 2020 on Monday, as the country reported a daily rise of 223 new infections.
- Several cities in China are now on a high Covid alert in preparation for the lunar new year holiday travel season when hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel around the country. Cities such as Luoyang in central China and Jieyang in the south now require residents to report details of their trips in advance.
- Chinese authorities are urging citizens not to order goods from overseas, claiming a recent Omicron infection detected in Beijing came from an international package sent from Canada. There is not a strong scientific basis to the claim, according to experts.
- Beijing Winter Olympics tickets will not be sold to general public in latest Covid setback.
- Japan will bring forward its Covid vaccination booster shots by as much as two months while also considering placing 11 prefectures, including Tokyo and its surrounding area, under a quasi-state of emergency to curb a rapidly accelerating sixth wave of infections.
- Hong Kong police have arrested and charged two Cathay Pacific flight attendants for allegedly contravening Covid regulations.
- Thailand is considering bringing back a quarantine waiver for vaccinated visitors, its health minister said on Monday, as part of a proposed easing of some Covid measures later this week.
- Travellers to Hawaii may soon need to have supplemented their vaccinations with a booster does in order to visit the islands without having to quarantine.
- Israel cuts Covid isolation to five days for asymptomatic people.
- The chief executive of Pfizer, Albert Bourla, has said that while the coronavirus will continue to circulate for many years to come, this current wave should be the last to have to lead to restrictions.
- Moderna is aiming to launch a single booster vaccination that will protect against both Covid-19 and flu within two years, its chief executive said.
- A fourth shot of Covid vaccine raises antibodies to even higher levels than the third jab but it is not enough to prevent Omicron infections, according to a preliminary study in Israel.
- Moderna CEO says data for Omicron-specific jab likely available in March.
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