France to test travellers from coronavirus high-risk countries

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The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex, has announced that people arriving from 16 countries, including India, the USA and Brazil, will be required to undergo on-the-spot Covid-19 tests on landing in France.

Along with the United States, India and Brazil, which are reporting tens of thousands of new cases each day, the countries include Algeria, Bahrain, Israel, South Africa, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Turkey and Madagascar.

The tests will be for "French citizens who live in these countries or citizens of these countries with an established residence in France," Castex told reporters at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport.

Travellers testing positive will be required to spend 14 days in isolation to prevent the spread of the virus.

The prime minister did not make it clear if people would have to wait for their test results before being allowed to leave the airport.

Franco-Spanish border to remain open, for now

Coronavirus tests will be generalised across France by 1 August, and will also be carried out at French ports, Castex said.

He also said that while France's border with Spain would remain open for now despite a surge in coronavirus cases in Catalonia, "we strongly urge French people to avoid going there until the health situation improves."

As for people travelling to France from Spain, "we are in talks with the Spanish and Catalan authorities so that... they try to limit the flow as much as possible," he said.

World Health Organisation worried

The World Health Organisation expressed concern on Friday over a coronavirus resurgence in Europe as Britain joined France, Germany and Austria in announcing tighter mask requirements and more generalised testing.

Europe accounts for a fifth of the world's more than 15 million cases and remains the hardest hit in terms of deaths, with 207,118 out of more 630,000 globally since the pandemic emerged in China late last year.

The WHO pointed to a rising number of cases on the continent over the past two weeks, stressing that tighter measures may be needed to curb infections.

A three-year-old girl died in Belgium on Friday, becoming the country's youngest known coronavirus victim, in a tragic reminder for a continent which has only recently lifted shutdowns.

"If the situation demands, reintroduction of stricter, targeted measures with the full engagement of communities may be needed," the global health body has warned.