EXPLAINED: What tourists in France should do if they think they have Covid-19

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EXPLAINED: What tourists in France should do if they think they have Covid-19
France's strategy to prevent a resurgence in the number of coronavirus cases is to test anyone presenting the slightest symptoms. Photo: AFP

What do you do if you travel to France and think you might have contracted coronavirus?


With international travel resuming for many countries, a steady stream of tourists are now arriving in France.

But while the French government has succeeded in curbing the spread of the coronavirus in the country, the virus has far from disappeared.

So, like in any country where there still exists cases of the coronavirus, there is of course a chance that visitors might become infected.

So what should you do if you suspect you might have become infected by the virus?

During the journey

If you develop symptoms during your trip over you should alert the crew so that they can help you with the next steps.

READ ALSO: What you should know about travel between France and the UK after July 10th

Upon arrival

Travellers get their temperature automatically checked upon arrival at some airports in France. Paris' airports operate with general temperature screenings of all arrivals and travellers flagged as having an abnormally high body temperature will proceed to a contact-less individual temperature check.

Anyone whose individual temperature check shows a temperature above 38C will be asked to do a coronavirus test on the spot. Passengers who turn out to be coronavirus positive will be placed in a mandatory 14 day quarantine, either in a hotel or in a place of their own choosing.

Travel to France: The health rules and guidelines tourists should know about


When in France

When you are in France you should follow the government's general health advice, which means wearing a mask on public transport and in all indoor public spaces, washing your hands frequently, sneezing and coughing into your elbow and respect one metre social distancing.

The government has set up a covid-19 hotline (+33 800 130 000), free of charge and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which they ask people to turn to for all non-medical questions.

The service is however French and operators may not speak English.

A woman gets a coronavirus PCR test in France. Photo: AFP

If you have symptoms..

If during your stay you experience coronavirus symptoms - cough, fever, muscle pain, loss of smell or taste etc - you are advised to get an appointment with a doctor to get a prescription for a coronavirus test.

"People with symptoms are encouraged to get tested," the French health ministry told The Local in an email.

This is the case both for tourists and the French (more on how to get tested below).

The health ministry said: "While waiting for the test and the result, you are advised to limit contact with other people as much as possible, even if it means canceling outings or visits."

The waiting time for the results is usually a day or two.

If you're having trouble breathing or if you need immediate medical help, dial the French emergency number, 15 (or 112,  the European number that works in any European country). If you have a speech or hearing impairment you can send an SMS to 114.

This photo shows the government's general advice for anyone in France who shows coronavirus symptoms. Photo: French health ministry


If you are in contact with a covid positive person..

Let's say you are in a hotel, a campsite or gite and find out that someone has been confirmed as coronavirus positive. What do you do?

"If you have been in personal contact with the person in question, isolate yourself, contact a doctor and get tested," the health ministry said.

"We understand that this is particularly frustrating, but this is a rare situation, and if those who are unlucky enough to experience it go through the effort it will prevent the virus from spreading and many others from having the same problem," they wrote.

If you can, self-isolate where you are. If this is not possible, ask the operators of the hotel, gite or campsite for advice. French regional authorities have set up special centres (often empty hotels) for people who lack a place to stay during their quarantine.

How do you get tested?

France has extensively ramped up its testing capacities and while the government's policy earlier was to only test vulnerable persons and people at special risk of having been infected, to also test everyone who presents symptoms or who have been in touch with a coronavirus positive person.

'The only good strategy': How France is trying to stop a coronavirus resurgence

To find a doctor, simply go online and search for a médécin généraliste in your area. If possible, get a téléconsultation (virtual appointment) or a visite domicile (home visit), the government advice states. If these two options aren't available, get an appointment in the doctor's office. Wear a mask when you go there.

If you're in Paris there are also some pop-up testing centres that do not require an appointment, including at the Paris plages locations.

The doctor will prescribe you a test, but it may take a few days between the doctor's appointment and the actual test.

While waiting for your test and the test results you are advised to wear a mask in public at all times to avoid potentially contaminating others.

If it turns out you have the coronavirus?

If the test comes back positive, you are to self-isolate until "you and those living in the same household have fully recovered from the virus," the government advice states.


Une ordonnance - a prescription

Dépistage - testing

Un test covid - a covid test

Un médecin généraliste - a GP

Quatorzaine - 14-day quarantine

Rendez-vous - appointment

Téléconsultation - virtual appoitnment

Visite domicile - home visit

FOR MEMBERS: The essential French language you'll need if you're ill




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Anonymous 2020/07/13 18:12
VOCAB: gotten - picked up

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