Germany will introduce mandatory coronavirus tests for travellers returning from designated risk zones from Saturday, the country's health minister said.

Having announced the measure last week, minister Jens Spahn said it would take effect from this weekend, as fears grow over rising case numbers blamed on summer holidays and local outbreaks.

"It is already the case that travellers from risk zones are obliged to either go into a two-week quarantine or provide an up-to-date negative test result," he said at a press conference Thursday.

From Saturday, "travellers entering Germany will have to bring a test result with them or be tested on arrival", he added, confirming once again that the tests would be paid for by the government.

Germany's list of "risk zones" currently includes most non-EU countries, as well as certain provinces in Belgium and Spain.

The country's 16 states agreed last month on free tests for all returning travellers, but had stopped short of making the tests mandatory.

Spahn said however that that imposing tests was "the safe option".

"I appreciate that this is an infringement on individual freedom, but I think it is a justifiable one," he said.

Germany has fared relatively well in the coronavirus crisis so far, and pupils began returning to schools in parts of the country this week.

But a recent rise in cases widely attributed to Germans returning from holiday has sparked concern in recent weeks, with Spahn among those urging Germans not to become complacent.

On Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute for public health recorded 1,045 new cases in the previous 24 hours, the highest daily toll since the beginning of May.

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