Poland reports new record daily increase in coronavirus cases

FILE PHOTO: A health worker wearing protective gear takes a swab sample from a driver at a mobile testing station for miners of the Bielszowice coal mine, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Ruda Slaska, Poland July 27, 2020. Grzegorz Celejewski/Agencja Gazeta/via REUTERS

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland was hit by a record daily rise in coronavirus cases on Thursday attributable to increased direct contact between people after a lifting of restrictions, the health ministry said.

It reported 1,136 new COVID-19 infections, the biggest daily number since the start of the pandemic in March. In total the nation of 38 million people has registered 82,809 infections, including 2,369 deaths.

Health ministry data showed the biggest rise in new cases in the southeast, though other regions also saw notable hikes.

“There are no big outbreaks. These are many fragmented outbreaks. This is the result of increased interpersonal contacts,” PAP news agency quoted the health ministry as saying.

Many Poles have begun to disregard recommendations to wear face masks since the removal in May of most restrictions on movement imposed in March and April to limit COVID-19 contagion. Schools and kindergartens resumed on Sept. 1.

Poland was at first successful in containing the outbreak, but cases began resurging in the summer as more people travelled for holidays and attended weddings.

The health ministry said that as of Thursday there were 91 ventilators and 1,964 hospital beds devoted to COVID patients.

The government has reiterated that it wants to avoid another national lockdown as the economy might not withstand it.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko, editing by Alan Charlish and Mark Heinrich