France, Spain and England will implement tougher COVID-19 measures for passengers arriving from China, officials said on Friday.

France, Spain and England will implement tougher COVID-19 measures for passengers arriving from China, officials said on Friday.

France’s government is demanding negative tests and urging French citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China. France is also reintroducing mask requirements on flights from China to France.

French health authorities will conduct random PCR tests at airports on passengers arriving from China to identify possible new variants of the coronavirus. The new rules take effect on Sunday, but officials said it will take a few days before they are fully in place.

The UK government has announced that anyone traveling to England on direct flights from China will be required to take a pre-departure test from 5 January.

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Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the UK was taking a “balanced and precautionary approach”. He described the measures as “temporary” while authorities assess COVID-19 statistics.

France and Spain said they would continue to push for a Europe-wide policy.

Hospitals in France have been struggling in recent weeks with a huge number of patients because of three simultaneous outbreaks: the seasonal flu, a wave of cases of bronchitis and COVID-19.

Previously, Spain’s government said it would require all air passengers arriving from China to have negative tests or proof of vaccination.

Health Minister Carolina Darías told reporters Spain would push for similar measures at the European level after the rise in cases in China. She said coronavirus health controls would be stepped up at Spanish airports.

Darías did not specify when the new requirement would go into effect.

Spain made the announcement after Italy said it would require coronavirus tests for airline passengers from China. Health officials from the 27-member European Union pledged on Thursday to continue talks to seek a common approach, but avoided imposing restrictions.

“There is an internationally and nationally shared concern about the evolution of cases in China and the difficulty of making a correct assessment of the COVID-19 situation, given the scarce information we have available,” said Darías.

Darías noted that China will lift travel restrictions from January 8 and there will likely be a large increase in people traaaaaaaaaaaaaaaveling abroad. She said that the main concern is the possible emergence of new variants of the coronavirus and that it is important to act quickly.

The United States on Wednesday announced new COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers from China, joining some Asian countries that have imposed restrictions. Japan on Friday began requiring tests for passengers arriving from China.

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