Next lockdown might be regional health minister says
Poland may consider local lockdown regimes depending on the vaccination rate in a given region, the health minister has said.
The country is bracing itself for a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic as the Delta variant of the virus gains dominance.
Adam Niedzielski told the private television broadcaster Polsat News on Friday that "when making decisions on a potential lockdown we'll take into account the vaccination rate in a given region.
"This rate will be analysed as the first factor in such decisions," Niedzielski added.
On Thursday, Niedzielski said the fourth wave of the pandemic would peak at the end of the summer holidays, citing Health Ministry forecasts.
At a press conference later on Friday, Niedzielski said the capacity of the health service could be another factor taken into account when deciding on lockdowns.
"When it comes to lockdown, the threat to the capacity of the health-care system is a criterion for introducing potential restrictions," the health minister said. "When we're close to reaching this capacity, we introduce restrictions to lower the number of new infections and pressure on hospitals."
However, hospitals may not be as busy as during the previous waves of the pandemic, as vaccinations have visibly reduced the need for hospitalisation, according to Niedzielski.
"When we compare a potential fourth wave with the second and the third, we are facing a much lower risk of introducing restrictions since pressure on hospitals will be lower."
Despite Poland's vaccination programme starting in December, not even half of the country's population has been fully vaccinated so far, and interest in vaccinations is dropping significantly owing to falling infection rates.
In general, eastern, south-eastern and north-eastern regions of Poland have seen lower vaccination rates.
Poland was hit hard by the third wave of coronavirus infections in the spring, with daily deaths often exceeding 500 and daily infection rates above 30,000.