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

With tourism opening up and travel rules relaxed more and more people are visiting France - but what if you test positive for Covid while you are here?

Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France
Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP

Although France has relaxed many of its Covid-related rules, self-isolation remains compulsory for people who have tested positive for the virus.

Testing

If you develop Covid symptoms, or you have been in close contact with someone who has Covid, you should take a test.

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 PCR test) or PCR test, 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;

Home-tests can be bought from pharmacies for a maximum price of €6 (most are cheaper than that) or you can go to most pharmacies on a walk-in basis and ask for an antigen test (test antigenique).

If you have symptoms you should take an antigen or PCR test, not a home test.

If you’re not a resident in France you will have to pay for the test, with prices capped at €22 for an antigen test or €54 for a PCR test.

For full details on testing types and how to book, click HERE.

READ ALSO The French vocab you need to get a Covid test

Waiting

While you are waiting for a test appointment, or waiting for the results of a test, you should self-isolate.

Positive

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate, although the length of your isolation depends on whether you are vaccinated or not.

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 antigen test or 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. After day 7 you can leave self-isolation with no further test required 

Anyone who is not vaccinated or who has an incomplete vaccination schedule (no booster) should:

  • isolate for to 10 days after the date of onset of symptoms or the date of the positive test;
  • perform an antigen or 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. 

Self-isolation

While self-isolating you should stay at home. If you have a garden you can go outside, but you should not leave your property and should avoid contact with people outside your household.

If you are staying in a hotel you should stay in your room, avoid communal areas and tell staff that you have tested positive so they can avoid close contact with you.

Contacts

If you have the French TousAntiCovid app, you can upload your positive certificate and you will be sent a link where you can fill in the details of anyone you have been in contact with before testing positive.

If you don’t have the app, Assurance Maladie now offers an online tool: Lister mes cas contacts that does the same thing.

Medical help

If at any point while you are positive you have difficulty breathing, you should call an ambulance on 15 (114 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing) or the European emergency number on 112. 

Member comments

  1. Covid? I feel I just had it but no money to test, so I just carried on as I would have pre covid. No I do not wear a mask, but I am vaccinated times three. Maybe it was not covid, although all cold symptomes were there, we will never know.

  2. Could anyone advise please: What is the availability of Covid anti-viral treatments like Paxlovid in France and Spain?

    Paxlovid must be taken within a few days of developing symptoms, so it is important to know where and how to get it if needed.

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HEALTH

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.

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