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Poland has become the latest country to close down cinemas and public institutions in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, the Polish government announced it was shutting down all cinemas, schools, universities, theaters and museums for two weeks. The measure goes into effect Thursday.
Poland has just 26 confirmed coronavirus infections, but the government has decided to take preventive action after seeing how other European countries, including Italy and France, have failed to contain the infection.
“We are in a very difficult situation, but we see on the example of Italy that this position may be much more difficult,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference Wednesday announcing the new measures.
The move follows a similar measure in the neighboring Czech Republic, which on Tuesday banned gatherings of more than 100 people, shuttering all of the country’s cinemas, as well as most bars and restaurants.
Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, has been put on lockdown following a spike in deaths from the coronavirus. So far there have been more than 10,000 confirmed cases of the illness in Italy and more than 630 deaths. The country shut down all its cinemas last weekend, part of broader measures to fight the spread of the disease.
France, which has had some 1,700 COVID-19 cases and 33 deaths to date, also has introduced strict measures regulating mass gatherings and public events.
Cinemas in China, the world’s second-largest film market and the country where the COVID-19 outbreak began, remain shuttered, and there have been partial closures in South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. In India, closures have been on a state-by-state basis. The state of Kerala, on the Malabar Coast, announced Wednesday that it was shutting down all cinemas in the region, which has a population of 35 million, until March 31, after 14 people tested positive for the virus.
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