Coronavirus cases near 20,000 as government predicts worse economic impact


The Ministry of Health informed on Wednesday about 471 new coronavirus infections and 14 deaths. The total number of cases reported in Poland has gone up to 19,739, of which 962 people have died. Furthermore, according to Poland’s finance ministry, the country’s economy may diminish by even up 5 percent in 2020

Poland’s Health Ministry informed on Wedensday (May 20) about 471 new cases of coronavirus infections, of which 275 occurred in southern province of Silesia. Fourteen infected people died that day. As of Wednesday evening, the total number of infections has gone up to 19,739, and the number of deaths – up to 962. The ministry also said that 8183 infected persons have recovered.

Polish schools will most probably remain closed until the end of June, when children start summer holidays, government spokesman Piotr Muller told public radio on Wednesday.

Schools have been closed since March, when Poland confirmed its first case of coronavirus. By May 25 they will start offering day care for the youngest children, although teaching will still be conducted online.

The current school year ends on June 26, followed by a two-month long holiday in July and August.

Poland’s economy may shrink in 2020 by 4-5%, more than the previously forecast 3.4%, as the coronavirus lockdown has lasted longer than anticipated, a senior finance ministry official said on Wednesday. In a nod to the economic crisis, the deputy director in the ministry’s macroeconomic department said Poland plans to suspend a rule curbing public spending before the 2020 state budget is amended at the end of June or start of July. „The European Commission has said that it saw Poland’s economy contracting by 4.3%. The market consensus is minus 4-5% and we are moving in this direction, but it’s not an official forecast,” Joanna Beza-Bojanowska told a news conference.

Poland is lifting curbs imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, reopening restaurants, shopping malls and kindergartens. But many parts of society remain closed, with schools expected to reopen no earlier than in September. The health ministry hopes the number of infections may start to fall next week, but expects a second wave in the autumn.

Poland documented its first coronavirus infection in March and soon after announced a 212-billion-zloty ($50.96 billion) aid package to soften the economic repercussions of the virus. The package includes support from the central bank and the state PFR fund which backs infrastructure projects and raises debt to distribute cash to companies struggling under lockdowns.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the Visegrad Four group of countries on Tuesday agreed that in was in their interests to gradually dismantle border crossing restrictions and controls as soon as the coronavirus pandemic allowed. The V4 is made up of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. After her video conference with the V4, Merkel had a bilateral meeting with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and they confirmed that they wanted to reduce restrictions on people and businesses in the border region insofar as infection levels allow, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.


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