Poland's president has coronavirus, apologizes to contacts

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FileFile picture taken June 28, 2020 shows Poland's President Andrzej Duda casting his vote during presidential election in Krakow, Poland. Duda was tested positive on Corona. (AP Photo/Beata Zawrzal, file)

WARSAW – Polish President Andrzej Duda says he feels well despite testing positive for the coronavirus, and he apologized Saturday to everyone who must quarantine because they had contact with him.

Duda, 48, said in a recording published on Twitter that he was experiencing no COVID-19 symptoms “but unfortunately, the test result is absolutely unambiguous.”

“I would like to apologize to all those who are exposed to quarantine procedures because of meeting me in recent days,” he said. “If I had had any symptoms of coronavirus, please believe me, all meetings would have been canceled.”

Duda’s diagnosis comes amid a huge surge in confirmed new cases of COVID-19 and virus-related deaths in Poland, a nation of 38 million that saw very low infection rates in the spring.

The president's key constitutional roles include guiding foreign policy and signing legislation. But many of his duties are ceremonial, and most of the responsibility for running the country lies with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s government.

Poland on Saturday reported 13,628 new confirmed cases and a record daily number of COVID-19 deaths, 179. The daily case count was the nation's second-highest of the pandemic after a record number set Friday.

Social tensions are also growing in the country.

Police used pepper spray Saturday on protesters angry over new virus restrictions, a group that includes entrepreneurs, far-right politicians, football fans, virus deniers and vaccine opponents. The protesters, many wearing no protective masks, violated a limit on public gatherings.