France to test travellers from 16 high-risk countries

Paris: Starting from August 1, France will test travellers arriving from 16 “red zone” countries, including India, where the coronavirus pandemic is still raging, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced.

The French government has planned “to reinforce sanitary security on borders” due to the high risk of the virus’ resurgence, Xinhua news agency quoted Castex as saying on Friday while visiting the Charles-de-Gaulle airport here.

Besides India, the other high-risk countries are the US, Brazil, Algeria, Bahrain, Israel, South Africa, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Turkey and Madagascar.

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Since the French border is closed to these countries, the measure will only be applied to French citizens who live there or travellers from these nations who have an established residence in France, Castex told reporters.

“We know that in a number of these countries, there is no testing strategy and that access to tests is difficult, so we have decided to generalize tests on arrival,” he said.

For Spain, the French border remains open but discussions between the two countries are underway to limit the traffic flow as much as possible, Castex added.

“Concerning the situation in Catalonia, which is witnessing deteriorated sanitary indicators, we strongly recommend French citizens to avoid going there until the health situation improves.”

In France, “the viral circulation is clearly increasing with R (reproduction rate) at 1.3 and a daily number of new cases over 1,000”, warned the country’s Health Ministry.

“We have thus erased a good part of the progress that we had made in the first weeks of deconfinement,” it added.

France has so far registered 217,797 COVID-19 cases, including a single-day increase of 1,130 on Friday, up from 1,062 a day before.

Meanwhile, 30,192 people lost their lives to the virus, including 10 new deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Ministry.

Since May 9 when the government started easing restrictive rules, 581 clusters have been identified, 215 of them still active.

Eleven new clusters were detected in the past 24 hours.

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