Self-isolation still compulsory for people who test positive for Covid in France

Although many Covid related rules have been relaxed or scrapped altogether, it is still mandatory to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid while in France, and the French government has issued a reminder of the rules.

Covid-19 rapid antigen tests
(Photo: Damien Meyer / AFP)

According to Covidtracker, the reproduction rate, or R rate, of the virus is currently 1.1 and falling, but that still means that Covid-19 is spreading rather than being in retreat. has reiterated the health policies surrounding Covid-19, including the need to isolate for anyone who has symptoms, even if they are waiting for the results of a test.

Anyone who has Covid, or is symptomatic and is waiting for the results of a confirmatory test should self-isolate, whether or not they are fully vaccinated, the government body reminded people in France.

Isolation requires people to remain at home and strictly limit contact with other people to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus.

The duration of isolation and the health instructions depend on your vaccination status.

READ ALSO France extends second Covid vaccine boosters to over 60s

As soon as symptoms appear (fever or feeling of fever, cough, headache, sore throat, aches and pains, unusual fatigue, diarrhea…), you must:

  • perform an antigen test immediately (if positive, perform a confirmatory RT-PCR test) or RT-PCR, regardless of your vaccination status, history of infection, or risk contact status;
  • Isolate yourself and reduce your contacts;
  • Prepare a list of people you have been in contact with in the 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms;
  • Work from home whenever possible.

While waiting for the test results, you are considered a ‘confirmed case’ and should remain isolated and protect your family.

Antigen tests are available on a walk-in basis at most pharmacies in France, while PCR tests are done at medical laboratories and selected pharmacies and generally need to be booked in advance.

There is no limit on who can get a test, but non-residents may need to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

What to do if you test positive

Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 should isolate, but their period of self-confinement changes depending on their vaccination status.

Those who are considered fully vaccinated (a vaccination with a booster or a primary vaccination completed less than 4 months ago), and children under 12 who test positive should:

  • self-isolate for 7 days after the date of onset of symptoms or the date of collection of the positive test;
  • perform an antigenic test or RT-PCR test on day five:
  • if the day five test is negative and there have been no symptoms for 48 hours, isolation can be terminated;
  • if that test is positive or if no day five test is performed, isolation must be continued until day seven, without a new test to be performed at the end of the isolation period.

If an antigen test returns a positive result, it must be confirmed with an RT-PCR test.

Anyone who is not vaccinated or who has an incomplete vaccination schedule (booster not completed within the time frame required for the health pass) should:

  • isolate for to 10 days after the date of onset of symptoms or the date of the positive test;
  • perform an antigenic or RT-PCR test on day seven after the date of onset of symptoms or the date of collection of the positive test:
  • if the day seven test is negative and there have been no symptoms for 48 hours, isolation can be terminated;
  • if it is positive or if no test is performed, the isolation must be continued until day 10 without any new test.

Note: It is recommended to respect the barrier measures (wearing a mask and hygiene measures) for the seven days after isolation ends following a confirmed positive test. 

If, at any point while positive for Covid-19, you have difficulty breathing, immediately call 15 (114 for deaf or hard of hearing people).

Assurance Maladie now offers an online tool: Lister mes cas contacts . It allows Covid-19 positive people to list the people they were in contact with before their Covid-19 infection.

READ ALSO 9 ways that two years of Covid have changed France

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Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

Experts have warned of a particularly bad flu epidemic this winter in France due to a combination of lowered immune systems and 'vaccine apathy' - urging high-risk groups to get their shot as soon as the flu vaccination campaign begins in October.

Experts warn of high levels of flu in France this winter

France’s annual flu vaccine campaign will officially get under way on October 18th this year – and medical experts have warned that this year’s season may be a bad one amid fears of “vaccine apathy”.

When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters in France this autumn

Immunologist Alain Fischer, who chaired France’s Conseil d’orientation de la stratégie vaccinale throughout the Covid-19 pandemic said that the high number of flu cases in Australia and the southern hemisphere in its winter were “a warning sign” that this winter’s flu, coupled with rising cases of Covid-19, could lead to a sharp rise in hospitalisations again in the winter.

“For two years, influenza has been kept at bay, thanks to the barrier measures we have put in place against Covid,” he told Le Parisien. 

“This year, it will be difficult to maintain the same level of protection: masks, distancing, intensive hand washing … Faced with this relaxation, there is a serious risk of flu epidemic.”

Between two million and six million people contract flu every winter in France. The infection is responsible for between 4,000 and 6,000 deaths every year, usually among people aged 65 and over. But in ‘bad’ flu years, that mortality figure can rise rapidly.

READ ALSO When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

The country, meanwhile, is at the start of what is being described as an “eighth wave” of Covid, and the Haute Autorité de santé recommends the eligible, vulnerable people ensure they are vaccinated against both viruses as early as possible. “A Covid-flu cohabitation is not a good thing,”  Fischer said. “It is synonymous with a very high number of hospitalisations. 

“Hence the objective of two strong vaccination campaigns – Covid and flu – especially for the most vulnerable.”

“The double injection is very good, and practical for patients. But I think that we should not wait, especially vulnerable people. It is a mistake to think that you will get your Covid booster when the flu vaccine is here – the Covid jab should not be delayed.”

Currently less than 40 percent of people eligible for a fourth Covid vaccine have received their latest dose.

Dual-strain Covid-19 vaccines designed to combat both delta and omicron variants will be available in France from October 3rd.

READ ALSO France approves new vaccines for Covid Omicron sub-variants

“It is quite possible to get your Covid injection in early October and flu vaccine in late October – you will need both anyway,” Fischer said.

The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends influenza vaccination for the following groups:

  • people aged 65 and over; 
  • people with chronic diseases; 
  • pregnant women;
  • people suffering from obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 40 kg/m 2 );
  • Infants under 6 months at risk of serious influenza;
  • Families and others close to immunocompromised people; 
  • home help workers caring for vulnerable individuals.

For anyone in these groups, the flu vaccine is 100 percent covered by health insurance and delivered free of charge to the pharmacy, on presentation of a voucher.