PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo on Monday tightened COVID-19 measures for people coming into the country amid a surge in coronavirus infections.

The Health Ministry said that if people coming into Kosovo want to avoid quarantining for a week they should have three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or two doses plus a negative PCR test no older than 48 hours.

The restrictions will remain in place until Feb. 4, according to a ministry statement. The emergence of the omicron variant is believed to be responsible for the rise in infections.

Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, according to studies. Omicron spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.

Kosovo’s move was criticized by neighboring residents in Albania and North Macedonia who held protests at border crossings on Monday.

Kosovo has had 2,243 new daily cases and two deaths on Monday, according to the ministry.

The ministry also called on people to get the vaccine. Its data show that 44% of the 1.8 million population Kosovars have had two doses of the vaccine, and more than 50,000 people have also received a booster shot.

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