Coronavirus pandemic back on upward trend in Poland - minister

WARSAW, Feb 16 (Reuters) - The COVID-19 pandemic is on the rise again in Poland, the health minister said on Tuesday, a worrying turnaround after case numbers stabilised following a second wave of infections last autumn.

Poland has loosened some of its COVID-19 restrictions, and scenes of partying tourists at Poland’s main ski resort at the weekend have raised fears of a new rise in infections.

“The reversal in the trend has become a fact,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski wrote on Twitter. “The trend for the weekly growth rate (seven-day moving average) is positive for the first time since mid-November (excluding post-holiday anomalies).”

On Tuesday, Poland reported 5,178 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 196 deaths. The European Union member states has reported a total of 1,596,673 cases and 41,028 deaths.

On Monday, Niedzielski condemned the actions of tourists who ignored rules about wearing masks and social distancing to dance, drink and in some cases fight in the streets of ski resort Zakopane over the weekend.

“I would not like Zakopane to be the beginning of the third wave of the pandemic in Poland,” he told a news conference.

On Friday, Poland allowed ski slopes to reopen, with cinemas, theatres and hotels also allowed to operate at up to 50% capacity.

The restrictions were eased for a two-week trial period, with authorities warning they could be reinstated if case numbers start rising.

By contrast, the neighbouring Czech Republic has announced a stricter lockdown in three districts worst hit by COVID-19 and Slovakia has closed some smaller border crossings with Poland. (Reporting by Alan Charlish, additional reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw and Jason Hovet in Prague, Editing by Timothy Heritage)