A woman wearing a face mask holds a cat along the Vistula river in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 25, 2021. The Polish government has announced new restrictions in an effort to curb a recent rise in new COVID-19 infections officially dubbed the "third wave." Over the course of this month, the daily infection rate has steadily climbed after a period of stability. A total of 12,146 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday, taking the tally to 1,661,190 since the start of the pandemic. To date, 42,808 Poles have lost their lives due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/Xinhua)
WARSAW, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Polish government announced new restrictions on Wednesday in an effort to curb a recent rise in new COVID-19 infections officially dubbed the "third wave."
Over the course of this month, the daily infection rate has steadily climbed after a period of stability. A total of 12,146 new cases were confirmed on Wednesday, taking the tally to 1,661,190 since the start of the pandemic. To date, 42,808 Poles have lost their lives due to the coronavirus.
Over 2.8 million Poles have already received at least one vaccine dose, which is currently administered to healthcare workers and people older than 65.
At the start of the month, daily figures were stable at between 2,500 and 5,000 positive tests.
"Today's results show the third wave is accelerating," Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said at a press conference, adding that the dynamics are starting to be a cause for concern and the numbers are increasing.
Niedzielski said that the rules on face covering will be tightened, mandating the use of masks in public spaces starting on Saturday instead of the previously allowed alternatives, such as scarfs and visors.
Also starting on Saturday, travelers from southern neighbours Slovakia and the Czech Republic will have to quarantine for ten days after arrival in Poland.
One of Poland's 16 provinces, Warmia-Masuria in the northeast of the country, will introduce additional lockdown measures due to a particularly steep rise in the number of cases there, including the closure of malls and cinemas and a return to remote learning for schoolchildren aged six to eight.
Older students in the province and the rest of the country have already been taking classes from home since Oct. 26, 2020.
Earlier plans to reopen schools for these groups in March have been shelved for now. The most recent projections put this date closer to April.
"We determined that it could be possible for high school students to return to school as early as the beginning of March," Niedzielski said in an interview with public broadcaster TVP on Monday. "But the situation has worsened over the last two weeks."
"I would still not rule out a return to school in March or April, as we think the peak of this wave will be slightly lower than in November."
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 255 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 73 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Tuesday. Enditem