Poland shuts down all schools, cultural institutions over coronavirus

The Polish government has decided to close down all creches, kindergartens, schools and universities as well as cultural institutions in the country in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a press conference following a crisis management team meeting early on Wednesday that no classes will be held at schools and universities for two weeks starting from Thursday. The creches, kindergartens and schools will be closed down from Monday, but they will remain open for children until the end of this week to allow parents to make suitable arrangements, the prime minister said.

The shutdown means that 4.58 mln students from 24,000 schools and 1.41 mln children attending 22,000 kindergartens across Poland will stay at home. The decision affects both public and private facilities.

The government also decided to close down all cultural institutions, including theatres, operas, museums and cinemas for a two week period as of Thursday.

"From tomorrow, all those institutions will stop operating in the area that concerns gatherings of large numbers of people," Culture Minister Piotr Glinski said.

According to a statement released by the development ministry on Wednesday evening, commercial facilities in the country will continue to operate as usual.

"We are not considering introducing an order regarding the closure of commercial facilities. Both employees and customers of such facilities are asked to follow the guidelines on hygiene, as recommended by the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate," the statement read.

Later, Development Minister Jadwiga Emilewicz confirmed by a tweet saying that there is no question of closing commercial outlets, all stores are working and will continue to work normally.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Ministry of Health said that thirty-one coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Poland to date.

The first case of coronavirus infection in Poland was reported on March 4, with the patient hospitalised in the western city of Zielona Gora. Other infected people have been hospitalised in Wroclaw, south-western Poland, Warsaw, Raciborz and Krakow, southern Poland, and Ostroda and Szczecin, northern Poland

The new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes a disease called COVID-19. Its symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches and fatigue. It is suspected that coronavirus infection, which can lead to life-threatening pneumonia, first occurred in China at the end of 2019 at a market in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province.