PARIS, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Starting from Aug. 1, France will impose COVID-19 tests on travelers arriving from 16 "red zone" countries where the coronavirus circulates rapidly, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Friday.
The French government planned "to reinforce sanitary security on borders" due to the high risk of epidemic resurgence, said Castex when visiting Charles-de-Gaulle airport in the north of Paris.
The 16 countries are the United States, Brazil, India, Algeria, Bahrain, Israel, South Africa, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Turkey and Madagascar.
The French border is closed to these countries. Therefore the measure will only be applied to French citizens who live in these countries or travelers from these countries 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," said the prime minister.
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.
As of Friday, France had registered 180,528 COVID-19 cases, including a single-day increase of 1,130, up from 1,062 a day before. Meanwhile, 30,192 people lost their lives to the virus, including 10 new deaths registered in the last 24 hours, showed the ministry data.
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.