Poland recorded 954 fatal coronavirus (COVID-19) cases as of April 8 – by far the biggest number since the onset of the pandemic in March last year, the health ministry said in its daily report.
The shocking number is nearly 42% bigger than the previous high recorded in November. As the figure made headlines both at home and abroad, the government assured that it was the effect of accumulated data reported from hospitals after the Easter break.
But experts have long warned that an elevated number of deaths was likely up to three weeks following the most recent peak in new infections – over 35,000 on March 26. That suggests similarly high numbers are still to show in statistics.
Poland is to remain in lockdown – albeit not a super tight one – until April 18 at least. Several branches of business, like large non-essential retail, restaurants, or fitness clubs, are closed but there are no curbs whatsoever on people’s movement.
The Polish United Right coalition government’s current top priority is rolling out as many vaccinations in as short time as possible so as to contain the spread of the virus effectively at last. The government keeps saying that it will inoculate “all who want it” by August.
All people over 60 should be vaccinated by the end of April, the government also plans.
A visibly stunned Prime Minister Morawiecki – who only recently attacked the opposition for not helping the administration fight the pandemic – pledged on April 8 to create more vaccination points across Poland in locations like schools, sports venues, or fire brigade stations.
There were 27,882 new coronavirus cases on April 8, the health ministry also said. That brings the total number of cases to 2,499,507, the 11th biggest globally. To date, 56,659 people have died.
Economically, the pandemic’s impact has been mild. Last year, Poland’s GDP contracted just 2.7% in one of the EU’s shallowest recessions. This year is forecast to see a recovery of 3%-4% depending on the efficiency of the vaccination roll-out.
Law and Justice (PiS), the biggest part of the tripartite ruling coalition, remains the most popular although support for it tends to hover below the 30%-mark recently. Two most popular opposition parties - Poland 2050 (Polska 2050) and Civic Coalition (Koalicja Obywatelska, KO), appear likely to garner enough seats in the parliament to form a working government majority if an election were held now.