Poland has declared that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic’s conclusion is now in sight. The country’s health minister made this declaration with the hope that the country will soon return to the pre-pandemic normal.

During a Feb. 9 press conference, Polish Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said he expects infections to significantly decrease. This would reduce the chances of Poland’s health system being overwhelmed and put the Polish government in position to ease restrictions in March.

The minister explained that his “very serious declaration” was based on “the characteristics of the pandemic in other countries.” Niedzielski mentioned countries that are now lifting restrictions following a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the omicron variant. He claimed that Poland is on the same trajectory.

“From my point of view, and as often as I have been a pessimist, I am now optimistic. We have the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” Niedzielski told reporters.

The health minister expressed this optimism during a separate interview with the Polish tabloid Fakt. “If the tempo at which infections are falling remains the same, there is a realistic prospect of lifting restrictions in March,” he said.

Last month, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he hopes the omicron-driven COVID-19 wave would be the last one to hit the country. The Polish leader also pledged to transform his COVID-19 advisory board into a council with two main tasks – combating the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and developing a post-pandemic recovery strategy.

The Central European nation has seen a decrease in active COVID-19 cases in a span of several days, with only a slight increase on Feb. 9. According to numbers from Johns Hopkins University, Poland has 5.26 million COVID-19 cases and 107,204 deaths.

Poland slowly easing restrictions alongside EU neighbors

Niedzielski also announced several changes to COVID-19 restrictions currently in place during the Feb. 9 press briefing. His announcements put Poland in line with its neighbors in the European Union.

Starting Feb. 11, people who have come into contact with an infected person and their household will no longer be quarantined. Mandatory quarantine for unvaccinated travelers will be reduced to seven days beginning that date.

From Feb. 15, those infected with COVID-19 will only need to quarantine for seven days – shorter than the usual 10. People in the same household will only be quarantined during the weeklong isolation period. Furthermore, Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek confirmed the return of in-person learning in schools beginning Feb. 21.

The health minister also mentioned that indoor mask mandates would become a recommendation rather than a requirement. As of writing, Poland requires people to mask up in enclosed public spaces. However, these mask mandates and other regulations are often not strictly enforced.

Poland’s decision to drop COVID-19 mandates mirrored that of Denmark. The Nordic country dropped restrictions currently in place on Jan. 30 despite the spread of omicron. The Danish government further relaxed restrictions the following day, Jan. 31.

Copenhagen permitted cinemas, zoos, museums and theaters to reopen. Sporting events held indoors and outdoors were also allowed – albeit with capacity limits. In these cases, visitors were still required to wear masks and present either proof of vaccination, recent COVID-19 recovery or a negative test result before entering.

According to Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke, the government “wouldn’t have supported the reopening if it hadn’t been for a clear approach both from [internal] and external experts.” He added that Copenhagen was monitoring the pandemic situation carefully.

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