Poland's health minister resigns after virus response criticised

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WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said on Tuesday he was resigning from his post, the second resignation in two days from the ministry, which has faced growing criticism for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Szumowski’s approach in the early stages of the pandemic made him Poland’s most trusted politician in April, but his image has been dented by scandals surrounding the purchase of ventilators and masks.

Szumowski has denied any wrongdoing.

“I would like to inform you that today I am resigning ...I decided it was that time,” he told a news conference, adding that he had initially planned to resign early this year but had stayed on to deal with the developing crisis.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki later on Tuesday said that he would announce the new health minister’s name by the end of the week.

The announcement came a day after Deputy Health Minister Janusz Cieszynski announced he was leaving the ministry.

Both Szumowski and Cieszynski had faced calls to quit over alleged irregularities in buying masks and purchases of ventilators which did not arrive.

Poland has seen a spike in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, driven in part by outbreaks among coal miners.

The country of 38 million has reported a total of 57,876 coronavirus cases and 1,896 deaths.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska, Agnieszka Barteczko and Pawel Florkiewicz, Writing by Alan Charlish, Editing by Catherine Evans