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A health worker takes a swab from a passenger of a flight from China at the COVID-19 testing booths of the Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Roissy, outside Paris, on January 1, 2023, as France reinforces health measures at the borders for passengers arriving from China. - France and Britain on December 30 joined a growing list of nations imposing Covid tests on travellers from China, after Beijing dropped foreign travel curbs despite surging cases -- and amid questions about its data reporting. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP) (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/Getty Images

France on Sunday urged European Union peers to test Chinese travellers for COVID after Paris decided to do so amid an outbreak sweeping the country.

Only Italy and Spain also require tests in the 27-nation, largely border-free EU and health officials from across the bloc failed last week to agree on a joint course.

More talks will follow this week.

From Sunday, France is requiring that travellers from China provide a negative COVID-19 test result less than 48 hours before departure and will randomly test those arriving.

“France will push for this methodology to be applied across the EU,” Health Minister François Braun said as he and Transport Minister Clement Beaune checked on the new procedures at Paris’ Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport.

Asked about the fact that a Chinese traveller with COVID could for the time being land in another EU country and then travel unchecked to France, Beaune said: “This is why we must coordinate (across the EU), to be more efficient.”

Having kept its borders all but shut for three years, imposing a strict regime of lockdowns and relentless testing, Beijing abruptly reversed course toward living with the virus on Dec. 7, and infections have spread rapidly in recent weeks.