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What to do if you get Covid-19 while on holiday in France?

What to do if you get Covid-19 while on holiday in France?
Health workers administer a Covid-19 antigenic test to visitors near The Eiffel Tower in Paris. Photo: Bertrand Guay / AFP
What should tourists do if they develop Covid symptoms while on holiday in France? Are the rules any different for fully vaccinated visitors? When can people return home? 

Tourism bosses hope to welcome some 50 million foreign visitors to France this year, a figure that is likely to be boosted after the UK dropped ‘amber-plus’ status for France.

But, despite the precautions, and the testing requirements to enter France from many countries, contracting Covid 19 is still a risk for holidaymakers – even those who have been vaccinated.

Cases have been rising in France in recent weeks but the good news is that they appear to have levelled off somewhat in recent days. Tourists should note however that some of the highest rates are in areas frequented by visitors, such as coastal areas in the south and south west.

So, what should holidaymakers do if they develop symptoms while on holiday in France?

Do tourists in France have to quarantine if they have Covid-19 symptoms?

Yes, they do. Anyone displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (which include a cough, fever, runny nose, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, loss of taste or smell) should isolate at home – or in a hotel room, gîte or Airbnb, or wherever they are staying – and contact a local doctor by phone.

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This standard-rate helpline – 09 72 72 99 09 – is available to help people find a nearby GP. The helpline is staffed from 8am to 7pm daily. Otherwise, staff at the place you are staying may be able to contact a local doctor on your behalf.

The doctor will carry out a brief triage of your symptoms by phone and, if they suspect you have Covid-19, will ask you to book an appointment for a test. 

Test centres can be found in most towns and cities across France. And many pharmacies offer the rapid antigenic tests. 

This website will help locate one of more of the 3,200 centres in France that are closest to you. Once you have taken the test, you should remain in self-isolation until the results come through. 

While isolating, avoid contact with anyone, even family members, as much as possible.

The government recommends having a test only if you have reason to think you may have caught the virus. 

What happens if the test comes back positive?

Official government advice is that if you have the virus, you must-self isolate for 10 days from the date of your first symptoms. If you still have a temperature at the end of those 10 days, you must continue to self-isolate for a further 48 hours.

If you have tested positive for the virus but are showing no symptoms, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the time you took the test.

In emergency cases

If symptoms get worse and you have trouble breathing, phone the emergency services on 15 from a French phone, or 112 from a non-French mobile. Anyone with hearing difficulties can send a message using 114. 

What about contact cases?

Even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to book a test and isolate until the results come back. If the test comes back negative, and you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to isolate further.

Anyone who is a contact case and has not been vaccinated must self-isolate for seven days from the last time they were in contact with the person who had the virus, even if they return a negative test result. Be alert to any developing symptoms.

If you live with someone who has the virus, you must self-isolate for 17 days, even after taking a test. Contact a test centre to make an appointment.

How much does a test cost?

PCR and antigen tests are currently free for French residents who are covered by French social security, for French nationals living abroad visiting France, and if you have a prescription or you have been notified that you are a contact case.

PCR tests cost €49 and antigen tests cost €29 for those not covered by French social security.

Can I go home?

Anyone displaying Covid-19 symptoms is urged not to travel, which means that if you develop symptoms while on holiday and test positive you will have to prolong your stay, at your own expense. This applies to foreign holiday makers and anyone living in France who is on holiday in another part of the country.

Some tourists are only finding out they have Covid-19 when it comes to getting a test to head back to their countries, meaning they have to pay for an extra 10-day enforced stay entirely out of their own pocket. Others may find out at one of the many pop-up test sites at popular tourist attractions.

Insurance

Paying for an unforeseen and heavily restricted additional stay in France could prove very expensive. It’s advisable, therefore, that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to be covered for all eventualities, not just Covid-19.

“It’s crucial to check the details to make sure that you have enough cover if you do need to isolate,” Rory Boland, Travel Editor at consumer group Which?, told the BBC. 

This could potentially mean you get reimbursed for any extra days of accommodation you may have to pay for. “Some policies have a ‘day benefit’ rate, but check that that will be enough to cover the cost of the hotel and everything else you might need if you do need to quarantine,” Boland said.

If you are an EU citizen, bring your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) – or your GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) if you are British. This, at least, will cover the cost of urgent medical healthcare while you are in France. 

Even with an ECIC or a GHIC, you should still take out appropriate travel insurance, as neither covers all health-related costs, for example medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. 

More help

This 24/7 toll-free telephone hotline (in French only) can answer non-medical questions about Covid-19 in France: 0 800 130 000. Alternatively, consult the government’s mesconseilscovid.fr website for advice.


Member comments

  1. You must, you must, you must. And it cost you money, do they really think tourists are running to testing centres if they are feeling slightly off? I wouldn’t, I did my bit, got vaccinated, if not forced I won’t get tested. I can infect others with covid? Well so it be, if you are vaccinated it is not a big deal. Not vaccinated? you know what to do to prevent getting infected, so no big deal either.

    1. Johanna, the issue is, for Americans anyway, they must be tested within 48-72hours of return to the United States. If you test positive, you’re not getting on that plane home. Have people budgeted the time and money to stay in their hotel an additional 10 days?

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