A man wearing a mask and medical gloves waits for a bus at a station in Warsaw, Poland, March 20, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhou Nan)

"When there are more and more sick people in Poland, some of them asymptomatic, it would help protect not those who wear these masks but others. Therefore, from next Thursday, such obligation will be introduced for everyone in public space," said Polish Minister of Health Lukasz Szumowski.

WARSAW, April 9 (Xinhua) -- People in Poland will be obliged to cover their nose and mouth in public, starting on April 16, in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, Polish Minister of Health Lukasz Szumowski said on Thursday.

"When there are more and more sick people in Poland, some of them asymptomatic, it would help protect not those who wear these masks but others. Therefore, from next Thursday, such obligation will be introduced for everyone in public space," he said at a press conference.

A woman wearing a face mask crosses a street amid COVID-19 outbreak in central Warsaw, Poland on March 23, 2020. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/Xinhua)

The minister explained that such an obligation exists in several other countries around the world. "We are not saying that it must be a mask, it can be a handkerchief or a scarf," he said, adding that specific regulations will be announced after the Easter holidays.

Szumowski appealed to the Poles not to visit their loved ones during the upcoming holidays. "Let's call people who are lonely, let's talk, but do not visit each other."

He said that if it had not been for the restrictions imposed, up to 40,000 people in the country could have been infected.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Poland has reached 5,341, with 164 deaths, the Health Ministry said Thursday morning. 

A cook puts on a face mask to start preparing free food for medical workers in Warsaw, Poland on March 24, 2020. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/Xinhua)■

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