Poland reports record rise in daily coronavirus cases and deaths

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bydgoszcz
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Bydgoszcz

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland's health ministry reported a record 12,107 new coronavirus infections and 168 deaths in the space of 24 hours on Thursday, hours before it is expected to announce more restrictions to stem the pandemic.

The new record of infected people happened just a day after the country recorded it's previous one at 10,040.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party was initially successful in fighting the pandemic in spring, but the country has struggled with a spike in the number of new infections in the past weeks, overloading the health system.

The government, which has faced criticism from the opposition and doctors who had accused it of wasting time in summer and failing to prepare for the second wave, is expected to announce more restrictions later on Thursday.

Earlier this month it made wearing masks compulsory, shortened opening hours in bars and restaurants and launched remote teaching in secondary schools and universities. It also closed gyms and swimming pools.

On Thursday it is expected to ban wedding parties all over the country and impose more curbs in shops and services, while extending on-line teaching to older pupils at primary schools.

The ministry said that as of Thursday, COVID-19 patients occupied 10,091 hospital beds and were using 812 ventilators, compared with 9,439 and 757 respectively a day earlier. There were so far a total of 214,686 people infected in the country with a population of 38 million.

(Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz, Marcin Goclowski, and Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)