High positive Covid-19 test rates in Poland suggest this is not the time to ease social distancing measures

GlobalData Healthcare 21 October 2020 (Last Updated October 21st, 2020 14:50)

High positive Covid-19 test rates in Poland suggest this is not the time to ease social distancing measures

There are now more than 192,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and more than 3,700 deaths due to Covid-19 in Poland. The number of cases in Poland has increased by more than 9,200 since 19 October. According to GlobalData’s analysis, death rates in Poland have increased at an alarming rate since early April, when the death rate of Covid-19 stood at 4.7 deaths per million population. As of 20 October, the death rate due to Covid-19 is over 100 deaths per million population and an incidence rate 251.1 new cases per million population. The first case of Covid-19 in Poland was reported on March 4 and at the end of March, strict lockdown measures were implemented. However, these restrictions were gradually lifted from April through June. Poland began to record an increase in new cases towards mid-September; since then, cases have surged dramatically, creating a second wave much worse than the first. Heightened restrictions, increased testing, and contact tracing will be crucial to control the spread of the virus.

Based on historical data for new cases of Covid-19, Poland appears nowhere near the peak, as approximately 50% of all confirmed cases were reported in the last two weeks. The outlook for the future remains uncertain, as Poland continues to report record highs of new daily cases. The average daily new cases in the past week leading up to 20 October was around 7,700, which was around 3,600 cases higher than the week before and almost 5,800 cases higher than two weeks before. During the first wave of the pandemic, in the month of April, Poland was testing approximately 9,500 samples per day, which has increased to more than 35,000 samples per day so far in the month of October. Increased testing may in part be contributing to the higher number of daily confirmed cases. However, the increase in positive the test rate from approximately 2.0% in the last week of July to 4.6% on 19 October suggests higher transmission and that there are likely more people with coronavirus in the community who haven’t been tested yet (Figure 1). In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that the percent positive remain below 5% for at least two weeks before governments consider reopening.

Poland will need to remain vigilant and should continue to increase the number of tests carried out, especially in areas of high contagion, to get an accurate picture of the situation in the community. As Poland’s positive test rate is nearly 5.0%, it is not a good time to relax social distancing measures. The high percentage of positive tests in Poland suggests high coronavirus infection rates due to high transmission in the community, and indicate this may be a good time to add restrictions to slow the spread of disease before trying to reopen the economy. Once the economy reopens, contact tracing will be a crucial measure to stop the chain of transmission by isolating the virus and preventing a new surge. Continued monitoring of new cases and country trends are needed to determine Poland’s future trajectory.

Figure 1: Poland, New Daily Cases (N), and Positive Test Rate (%), March – October 2020.

Credit: GlobalData.