Covid self-testing kits to be sold in French supermarkets

French supermarkets will soon stock Covid tests on their shelves.
French supermarkets will soon stock Covid tests on their shelves. The move will likely help with supply problems in pharmacies. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP)
French supermarkets have been given the right to sell Covid tests up until January 31st. The government has called on everyone attending a New Year's Eve gathering to get tested beforehand.

French supermarkets will begin stocking self-test Covid kits on their shelves. 

Retailers will be allowed to sell these nasal swab antigen tests up until January 31st, according to a notice published in the Journal Officiel

On Monday evening, the French government appealed for people to get tested before attending New Year’s Eve celebrations. 

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The President of the E. Leclerc supermarket chain described the decision as “just and useful”. 

It is highly unusual for any sites other than pharmacies to sell medical products in France, due to strict regulations that essentially give pharmacies a monopoly. 

While in many countries you can buy headache tablets or paracetamol in a number of places including supermarkets, corner shops and service stations, in France drugs like Ibuprofen can only be bought at a pharmacy.

This is also true for things like cough medicine and cold remedies. Generally speaking, even if you have a minor illness, you need to head to the pharmacy.

There are also restrictions on ownership which mean that pharmacy chains are not allowed, although parapharmacies – which only offer non-prescription medicines – are often part of a chain.

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But many people have been struggling to find self-tests in pharmacies, where the price limit is set at €6. It is unclear whether supermarkets will also have to respect these pricing guidelines. 

Others have complained that the instructions that come with the self-test kit are highly complicated, with one Twitter user saying it was easier to put up a piece of Ikea furniture than complete the test.

The government has stressed that the self-test kits to be sold in supermarkets should be used for asymptomatic people and for personal use only. 

If you are experiencing Covid symptoms, you should still ask for a test at the pharmacy or another testing site


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