The number of deaths owing to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic surpassed 100,000 in Poland, data from the Ministry of Health showed on January 11.
Poland is only the 15th country to have gone past the grim mark and has recorded a total of 182,000 excess deaths since the pandemic began in March 2020 compared to times pre-pandemic. The number comprises COVID-19 deaths as well as others, including those indirectly related to limits that the pandemic imposed on treatment of other ailments.
Among the countries with at least 100,000 deaths, Poland has the third-highest death rate per million people, data compiled by the Our World In Data website shows.
Most recent daily figures from the Ministry of Health showed 11,406 new cases and 493 deaths, bringing the totals to just over 4.23mn and 100,254, respectively.
The pandemic is yet to intensify in Poland with the highly transmissible omicron variant expected to begin rising in the number of overall cases as soon as this week.
A team of researchers using mathematical modelling said last week that the omicron wave has the potential to infect as many as 20mn Poles, as Poland’s vaccination rate remains low and the number of people who have so far received booster shots is just 20% of those eligible.
The team also said that it was likely that – despite being milder overall – the sheer scale of the new wave of infections will lead to nearly 19,000 deaths only between January 20 and February 11.
Poland’s government has been widely criticized for its pandemic response. The only restrictions in place involve wearing masks indoors, maintaining social distance, and caps on the number of people in shops and other public venues.
The restrictions are hardly enforced, however, critics have long said.
The government has been wary of tightening curbs as they would annoy parts of its electorate, analysts say. For the same reason, the government has not introduced vaccination passes like in France nor is it going to make vaccinations mandatory even for specific professional groups.
“Everything will depend on the pandemic situation. If the level of hospital admissions is dramatically high, we will use all measures we can,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told private broadcaster TVN24. The minister added that the curbs would aim at “reducing people’s mobility,” thus hinting at a lockdown.