French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Tuesday that Covid-19 tests for travellers arriving from China would continue despite protests from Beijing.
"I think we're performing our duty in protecting French people by asking for tests," Borne told franceinfo radio when asked about China's reaction.
"We're doing it while respecting the rules of the World Health Organisation and we will continue to do it," she added.
Since Sunday, travellers from China arriving in France must wear a mask and be prepared to submit to a test on arrival, which are being done at random.
From Thursday, all travellers will be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test undertaken less than 48 hours before their flight.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
French authorities have described the testing regime as a means of tracking variants that might be spreading in China since the country lifted its strict Covid-19 restrictions.
"Our objective -- and all the scientists agree on this point -- is to follow the evolution of the virus and that's what we've been doing since Sunday," Borne said.
European nations are seeking to coordinate their responses, with France, Italy and Britain testing arrivals while other states such as Germany have no restrictions.