FILE PHOTO: Polish President and presidential candidate of the Law and Justice (PiS) party Andrzej Duda talks to the media after the announcement of the first exit poll results on the second round of the presidential election, at the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, July 12, 2020. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel/File Photo
October 24, 2020
By Marcin Goclowski
WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus and is subject to quarantine but is feeling well, officials announced on Saturday, as the country imposed fresh restrictions to try to stem a surge in the disease.
Duda received a positive result from a test he took on Friday, presidential minister Blazej Spychalski said on Twitter, adding, “The president is fine. We are in constant contact with the relevant medical services.”
One of the people Duda met in recent days was tennis star Iga Swiatek – who said soon after the announcement about the president being infected that she feels good, but will quarantine.
“Neither I nor members of my team have symptoms of coronavirus. We carry out tests regularly. We will quarantine ourselves in accordance with current procedures,” the 19-year-old said in a Twitter post.
Fresh from winning the French Open earlier this month and gaining national hero status for doing so, Swiatek met with Duda on Friday, when she was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit for her sporting achievements.
Duda, 48, holds a mainly ceremonial role, but has the power to veto legislation. He is an ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.
“The president is a young man, I think that he will pass the infection without problems,” Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told private radio RMF.
He added that he expects everyone who had contact with Duda in recent days will be quarantined. This should include Swiatek, he said.
Poland is seeing a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, with new infections hitting a daily record of 13,632 on Friday. The country recorded 13,628 new cases on Saturday.
More restrictions to curb the spread of the virus came into force on Saturday, including a two-week shutdown of restaurants and bars. Schools will remain open for children up to third grade, with older students moving to distance learning.
The government sent text messages on Saturday morning to Poles, urging them to stay home and help elderly people.
The government is still considering whether to close cemeteries on Nov. 1, which is All Saints’ Day, a Roman Catholic holiday that usually attracts big crowds in Poland. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday that a decision can be expected next week.
The country’s most senior cleric, primate Wojciech Polak, issued a statement on Saturday calling for the cancellation of events usually held in cemetries including the celebration of Mass and processions.
Gatherings of more than five people were banned from Friday. Despite this, thousands poured onto streets on Friday night to protest over a ruling on Thursday by the Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Catholic country.
The protests resumed on Saturday, for a third day running. Private broadcaster TVN showed a footage of several hundred people marching in the streets of Warsaw and Lodz.
The Health Ministry reported 153 coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking the total toll to 4,172. Poland has reported a total of 228,318 cases.
The ruling nationalists have faced criticism in recent days from the opposition that the country is not prepared enough for the second coronavirus wave. Recent opinion polls have shown a drop in support for both PiS and Duda.
(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski and Alicja Ptak; Editing by Jason Neely and Frances Kerry)