SOFIA, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Bulgaria has detected its first 12 cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Balkan country's chief health inspector Angel Kunchev said on Sunday.
"We have confirmed the new variant in samples from 12 people," Kunchev told reporters.
"From now on we can expect a faster spread of the infection. Omicron will gradually become the dominant variant as it has already happened in many European Union countries," he said.
Kunchev said the infected nine men and three women, mainly from the capital Sofia, were experiencing mild symptoms and none was hospitalised.
Bulgaria's health authorities will meet on Tuesday to discuss whether additional measures would be needed to curb the spread of the new variant, which has brought a surge in coronavirus infections across the globe.
Kunchev said Bulgaria has already taken the most important step, offering a one-off cash bonus of 75 levs ($43.62) to pensioners who opt to get vaccinated or get a booster dose in the European Union's least vaccinated member state. read more
Bulgaria has also shortened the period for a booster to three months after a full vaccination cycle.
"Neither of the people infected with Omicron has had a booster dose. We continue to think that a full inoculation plus a booster provides a high level of protection," Kunchev said.
New cases of the coronavirus have started to rise in the past days. On Sunday, Bulgaria registered some 1,076 new cases, bringing the total number of registered infections to over 748,000. The pandemic has killed some 30,983 people so far.
($1 = 1.7193 leva)
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