Germany tightens rules for travellers on virus concerns


Travellers line up at the new Corona Test Centre at Duesseldorf Airport in Duesseldorf, Germany, July 27, 2020. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany will require all unvaccinated travellers arriving in the country from Sunday to present a negative COVID-19 test result, stepping up health checks on returning holidaymakers amid concern over rising case loads in holiday destinations.

Previously, only airline passengers were required to produce a negative test if they were not vaccinated and had not recovered from COVID-19 in the previous six months. People entering by road, rail or sea were not required to do so.

The move, announced by the government on Friday, comes amid growing concern over travellers bringing back infections from their summer holidays as the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreads across tourist hot spots.

Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the new testing requirement, the government said.

As many as one in five new coronavirus infections detected in Germany last week were contracted abroad, with travellers from Spain and Turkey accounting for nearly 500 cases, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Spain has been rising fast, with the 14-day incidence rate reaching 700 infections per 100,000 inhabitants earlier this week, though officials said the situation was improving in some hard-hit areas.

In Turkey, the daily case load jumped to 22,291 earlier this week, the highest since early May, and the daily death toll reached a six-week high of 76 people.

In Germany, cases have also been rising since early July, albeit not as strongly, after more than two months of steady decline. On Friday, the RKI reported a daily increase of 2,454 new cases and 30 deaths.

Germany got off to a slow start but then picked up the pace of its vaccination programme. More than half the population has now received two shots, dramatically reducing the severity and lethality of the disease.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Frances Kerry)

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