Poland is past the peak of its current wave of the pandemic but another could occur in January, the health ministry has warned, as it confirmed the country’s seventh case of the Omicron variant on Sunday.
As Polish schools returned to remote learning this morning, the health minister, Adam Niedzielski, noted that this would help “accelerate the decline” in infections that has been taking place over the last two weeks. But he warned that this was necessary in anticipation of another spike caused by Omicron.
Apogeum zakażeń i hospitalizacji w IV fali mamy za sobą. Zaczynająca się od jutra 3-tygodniowa przerwa w nauce stacjonarnej powinna przyspieszyć spadki. Zejście z wysokich poziomów zakażeń i hospitalizacji jest konieczne w kontekście ryzyk związanych z #Omikron pic.twitter.com/AI12n1PvtT
— Adam Niedzielski (@a_niedzielski) December 19, 2021
Speaking to Polsat News yesterday, deputy health minister Waldemar Kraska warned that “the next wave may appear in our hospitals in January”.
“We have to limit infections in the coming weeks in order to be prepared for the next wave,” he said. Poland introduced new entry limits on restaurants and bars, hotels, cultural venues and places of worship last week.
Kraska also confirmed yesterday that, since Poland’s first case of the Omicron variant – in a woman from Lesotho who attended a UN summit in Katowice – was detected on Thursday, six further cases have been discovered.
The second case was confirmed in a three-year-old girl in Warsaw. Kraska also noted that three subsequent cases were identified in adults in the capital and its surroundings.
“They are a man from the Piaseczno district in Warsaw, a flight attendant who travelled between Warsaw and Beijing, but also a foreigner who is currently in Warsaw,” he said. All “feel fine” and have been quarantined.
Omicron, which has already caused a surge in infections in the UK, is expected to become the dominant strain in Europe by early next year, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Kraska warned that with the new, more contagious strain of the virus, “a dozen or so minutes are enough in close contact with an infected person” for infection. But he added that vaccines will “certainly” provide some protection.
Maria Wilczek is deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She is a regular writer for The Times, The Economist and Al Jazeera English, and has also featured in Foreign Policy, Politico Europe, The Spectator and Gazeta Wyborcza.