The coronavirus continued its deadly march in Eastern Europe on Friday.
Poland, where the daily average of new cases is above 21,000, saw its highest daily death count of the pandemic — 445 — and admitted the first patient to its new field hospital at a stadium in Warsaw.
Romania, which passed 10,000 daily cases for the first time, announced that it would close schools and implement an overnight curfew.
Hungary declared a “state of danger” this week, giving its prime minister the power to rule by decree to combat the virus, though restaurants and stores are still open.
Ukraine, one of Europe’s poorest countries, has also seen cases soar, and announced a national mask mandate in public buildings and on public transportation on Friday. The Parliament voted to impose fines of up to 255 hryvnia, or $9, for failing to wear a mask.
In Romania, new measures are set to go into effect Monday, including closing shops with the exception of pharmacies by 9 p.m. and requiring masks in all public spaces. Fairs and indoor markets will be closed until early December, and employees are being encouraged to work from home. Schools will move entirely online and Romanians will be required to fill out forms if they leave their homes after the nighttime curfew comes into effect.
“The measures that have been taken so far are no longer enough,” President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday in announcing the new restrictions.
Romania, which has recorded at least 287,000 cases of the virus and 7,663 related deaths, has one of the least developed health care systems in the European Union, and there are concerns over whether the country can handle the rising caseload.
In Poland, where demonstrators have been protesting a newly passed near-total ban on abortion, the prime minister blamed protesters for the coronavirus situation. The country announced new regulations this week. Starting Saturday, all cultural institutions, such as museums, theaters and cinemas, as well as nonessential shops in commercial centers will be closed. There will be limits on the numbers of customers in other shops, and hotels will be allowed to accept only customers traveling on business. All schooling will be online.
The country has a seven-day average above 21,000 cases, and the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, has said a new national quarantine is possible.
In Hungary, an official with the Hungarian Chamber of Doctors warned that without stricter measures to limit the virus, the situation in the country may in weeks resemble that of Italy earlier this year, according to an interview published Friday. Hungary’s daily death toll is averaging more than 70, but topped 100 on Friday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that the government expected to need some 2,240 intensive care beds by Nov. 21 and 4,480 by Dec. 10, adding that this number represents the maximum capacity of the health care system. On Thursday, Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto, who recently tested positive for the virus, announced that the country would start importing a coronavirus vaccine from Russia for final testing and licensing in December.
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