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COVID-19 RULES

What to do if you test positive or are a contact case for Covid in France

France has in recent days relaxed its self-isolation rules for people who test positive for Covid, as well as those who are contact cases. Here's how the new rules work.

Man standing in front of a window
The government says initial data showed that the incubation period of Omicron may be faster than other variants, favouring a reduction in the length of isolation. Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

The new rules, which came into force on January 3rd, allow a “risk-benefit balance aimed at ensuring the virus is controlled while maintaining socio-economic life”, said health minister Olivier Véran.

What if you test positive?

It depends on your vaccination status.

Fully vaccinated people (see below for the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’), over the age of 12, who test positive only have to isolate for seven days, but can leave quarantine after five days if they show a negative test, Véran said. The test can be either a PCR or antigen test, but not a home test.

Previously anyone who tested positive in France had to isolate for 10 days.

PCR tests were previously required to confirm a diagnosis, but now antigen test and home-tests can be used as well with no need for  follow-up PCR test. If you cannot work while you are in self-isolation, you can apply for an arrêt de travail (ensuring you will still be paid) with either a PCR or antigen test result, but not a home test.

Those in this age group who are not fully vaccinated must complete a 10-day quarantine, according to the same rules, but shortened to seven should they present a negative antigen or PCR test at that stage.

These rules apply regardless of the coronavirus variant they were infected with – a longer quarantine period for those who tested positive for the Omicron variant has been scrapped.

If you use the Tous Anti Covid app, you can upload a positive test – either PCR or antigen – to the app to notify those you have been in contact with.

What about contact cases?

There will be no quarantine for fully inoculated (this includes the booster dose, if applicable) individuals over the age of 12 who have a close contact test positive.

However, people must respect protective measures and “undergo regular testing”, Véran said.

They need to take a rapid antigen or PCR test “on the day you learn that you are a contact case”, followed by a self-test on the second and fourth days.

“If you take proof of your first test on day 0 to a pharmacy, you will receive the necessary home tests free of charge,” Veran added.

Until now, those who were a close contact of someone who tested positive had to quarantine for a week.

But if you’re unvaccinated, the seven-day quarantine remains and you should test at day zero and again on day seven. A negative test is required to leave isolation after that period.

And again, the rules apply whatever strain of coronavirus someone has caught.

What about children under the age of 12? 

The self-isolation rules for children under the age of 12 do not change according to vaccination status – vaccination for under 12s has only been available since late December, so the vast majority of under 12s are not yet fully vaccinated. 

If they test positive, they must take a PCR or antigen test five days later. They can leave isolation if this test is negative and they have been asymptomatic for 48 hours. 

If they are a contact case, they must take a PCR or antigen test immediately, followed by a self-test on Days 2 and 4 (following the moment they discovered that they were a contact case). If these tests are all negative, their parents or guardians must sign an declaration stating that the tests were indeed completed. The children can then return to school.

Fully vaccinated

The definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ can now include the booster shot.

If you have had two doses of the Covid vaccine (or one dose if you previously had Covid) more than seven months ago and have not had a booster shot, you will no longer be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ for quarantine purposes. The seven-month limit is set to be lowered to five next month.

If you caught Covid after having two doses, you will not be able to have a booster for five months, but can use your positive test result together with the two vaccine doses to show that you are considered fully vaccinated.

Put more simply – if you have a working health pass on the TousAntiCovid app, you are considered fully vaccinated by the French government.

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Member comments

  1. What about visitors to England that have returned home and been told to self isolate for ten days even though they are fully vaccinated? Can we go out after 7 days?

    1. According to the website diplomatie.gouv.fr the 10 day isolation when returning from the UK is lifted if you have a negative test 48 hours after arriving in France – according to the website that is still valid as of today (Jan. 2nd)

  2. Fully vaccinated people (see below for the definition of ‘fully vaccinated’), over the age of 12, who test positive will only have to isolate for seven days, but can leave quarantine after five days if they show a negative test, Véran said. The test can be either a PCR or antigen test, but not a home test.

    So if you can’t go out how do you get a PCR test?

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COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

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