Poland’s Covid-related death toll reached 100,000 on Tuesday, with the country still bracing for the outbreak of the omicron variant.
Average excess mortality in Poland during the pandemic has exceeded 20%, according to Eurostat data, one of the worst results in the European Union. In the last two years, Poland registered 190,000 more deaths than the annual average for the three years before the pandemic, civil registry data showed.
Europe’s Eastern states lead in excess mortality ration during pandemic
The high ratio of deaths is most likely a result of health-care system gaps amid looser restrictions kept in place for much of last year and a full vaccination rate of 55%. That’s below the EU average but higher than other eastern EU states such as neighboring Slovakia or Bulgaria, which has the lowest rate in the 27-member bloc.
The government has been reluctant to introduce new pandemic restrictions, fearing a public backlash. Poland’s de facto leader and the head of the ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski said last month that authorities are struggling to enforce existing virus rules, including mask-wearing in closed spaces.
Even though Health Minister Adam Niedzielski said new restrictions are needed, as he expects hospitals to be overrun with new infections, his appeal is likely to be ignored with weak political backing in the cabinet.