WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland's President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for coronavirus but is feeling well, his spokesman said Saturday.
Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in confirmed new cases of COVID-19 and virus-related deaths in Poland, a nation that saw only very low infection rates in the spring.
His spokesman, Blazej Spychalski, said on Twitter that the 48-year-old conservative leader was tested the day before and his result was positive. He said the president is in isolation.
“The president feels good,” Spychalski said. "We are in constant contact with the relevant medical services.”
Duda’s key constitutional roles include guiding foreign policy and signing legislation. But many of his duties are ceremonial, and most of the country’s day-to-day governance is the responsibility of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's government.
The fast spread of the virus is pushing Poland's strained health system to the breaking point. Doctors say patients are now dying not only from COVID-19, but from other illnesses that overwhelmed hospitals are not able to treat.
The government is preparing to open field hospitals but it is not clear where it will find the doctors and nurses to staff them.
Duda on Friday visited the National Stadium in Warsaw, which is being transformed into one of the field hospitals. He also bestowed state honors Friday on Iga Swiatek, the 19-year-old Polish tennis player who won the French Open earlier this month, and her father and trainer, Tomasz Swiatek.
Duda and the Swiateks wore masks and gloves, but stood very close and shook hands as the president pinned the awards on them.
Iga Swiatek said she and others on her team have no symptoms but would go into quarantine. She said they are tested regularly and would be tested again in three days.
The Polish government has imposed new restrictions starting Saturday that are just short of a lockdown in hopes of bringing the country's outbreak under control. The prime minister appealed to Poles to strictly observe these “serious restrictions” in order to protect lives.
On Saturday, the European Union nation of 38 million recorded 13,628 new cases and 179 new deaths — a record number of deaths in one day since the start of pandemic.
There are now some 11,500 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and 911 of them on respirators, the Health Ministry said.
Follow all of AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak