Poland on Tuesday followed neighbouring Germany in banning public gatherings of more than two people and also restricted freedom of movement in order to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

"We're taking this decision to buy ourselves some time," Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters.

"We're buying everyone time, to better prepare the just in case, to prepare new beds, new hospitals. We want to stay ahead of things in case the comes to pass."

People are now only allowed to leave the house to go to work, to buy essentials or for medical reasons.

The two-person limit on public gatherings does not apply to families.

Religious gatherings such as mass and funerals will be limited to five people—priest and gravediggers not included—against the previous 50.

The new measures will apply until April 11, according to Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski.

Earlier this month, Poland closed its borders to foreign visitors and made it mandatory for anyone returning from abroad to go into quarantine.

It also closed all museums, swimming pools, schools, movie theatres and bars. Restaurants have only been able to provide takeaway service.

The EU member of 38 million people has 799 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including nine deaths.

More than 90,000 people are under quarantine, according to Morawiecki.