Bulgaria tightens arrival conditions as COVID infections surge

People receive coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Krushovitsa
A woman awaits to receive a dose of vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by a medical personnel from a mobile unit in the village of Krushovitsa, Bulgaria, October 10, 2021. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov/File Photo

SOFIA, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Bulgaria will require almost all travellers from the European Union to have a negative PCR coronavirus test prior to entry along with a valid COVID certificate, starting on Friday, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

The measure is aimed at limiting the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, the ministry said.

The Balkan country recorded its first 12 Omicron cases since the New Year. On Wednesday it reported a sharp rise in new infections to over 6,200 from about 1,900 a day earlier.

Under the updated rules, travellers from the EU countries that on Bulgaria's red zone list, need to produce a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to arrival. The rule also applies to travellers from the United Kingdom.

On Bulgaria's red zone list are countries that have reported over 500 coronavirus infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 days or have reported a spread of coronavirus variant that raises concerns.

Beginning on Friday, Bulgaria will add the United States, Canada and Australia to its red zone list, effectively banning arrivals of foreigners from these countries.

Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg and Romania are the only EU member states that are not on Bulgaria's red zone list at present.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia Editing by Matthew Lewis

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