France no longer requires PCR tests to confirm Covid diagnosis

Members of the public queue for a Covid test in France.
Members of the public queue for a Covid test in France. There is no longer any need for to take a PCR test to confirm positive antigen tests or self tests. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)
If you test positive for Covid via an antigen or self-test, you no longer need to confirm the result with a PCR test in order to benefit from paid time off work.

Previously, people who tested positive for Covid in France via an antigen test or self-test kit had to confirm the result with a PCR test. 

PCR tests are more accurate and results obtained through these tests are integrated into SI-DEP, one of the French government’s digital tools for monitoring the pandemic. PCR results are also useful to health authorities as they allow scientists to determine which variants of the virus are most prevalent among the population. 

By taking a PCR test to confirm positive results, patients were able to access services from the Assurance maladie (the French public health system) like obtaining an arrêt de travail giving you time off work and in some cases, to find somewhere for you to self-isolate. PCR test results were also used to help with contact tracing, sending alerts to people you may have come into contact with via the TousAntiCovid app. 

Record Covid cases in France have seen enormous queues outside pharmacies and medical laboratories, with people seeking to confirm positive results with a PCR. 

But doing so is no longer necessary. 

A memo sent from the Health Ministry to medical professionals on January 2nd reads: “Considering the intense viral spread, it is no longer necessary to confirm the result of a TAG (antigen test) with an RT-PCR (PCR test)”. 

As far as confirming home-test kit results is concerned: “the result should be confirmed with an antigen or PCR test”. 

Various professionals confirmed these rules to Le Parisien

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“It has been a week that we are not asking people who tested positive via an antigen test to do a PCR,” said Philippe Besset, head of the French Federation of Pharmaceutical Syndicates. 

“The instruction was given to us by the Direction générale de la Santé since Monday, to avoid the testing system being overwhelmed,” said the President of the National Syndicate of Biologists, François Blanchecotte.

The French Health Ministry have confirmed to The Local that people who test positive with an antigen test can still obtain an arrêt de travail to give them paid time off work. To do this, you must apply through the Améli (public health insurance) website. You will need a French social security number. 

You cannot however get an arrêt de travail with a positive self-test result. 

The certificate covers you for seven days off work, but can be extended to another seven days if you are still awaiting test results at the end of the period. This also applies to parents who cannot work because their child’s school or class is closed due to Covid. For full details of claiming the arrêt in this way, click here.

Antigen tests can also be uploaded to the Tous Anti Covid app in order to notify people you have been in contact with.

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