France targets 1 million covid tests: what to do if positive

France is aiming to test 1 million people per week for coronavirus by September. We break down what to do if the test comes back positive.

27 August 2020
Currently, France carries out 830,000 coronavirus tests per week
By Connexion journalist

The new target, announced by Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday (August 27), comes as the number of coronavirus cases in France continues to rise. To counter this, Mr Castex said that it was necessary to test, trace and isolate. 

“We now have one of the most ambitious testing capabilities in the world,” Mr Castex said. 

Currently, France carries out 830,000 coronavirus tests per week. 

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

The overall advice from the French government to people who have coronavirus symptoms involves three steps:

  1. Get tested, self-isolate and respect social distancing measures and barrier gestures
  2. Make a list of all people you may have been in contact with recently
  3. If the test is positive, continue to monitor your health while staying isolated

Within that, there are still many unknowns which can be broken down further. 

Getting tested

There are over 3,300 testing centres in France where people can be checked for free for Covid-19, without the need for a prescription - see more details here. As well as this, there are mobile testing units that have been set up at various key locations around the country. 

Details should be available from your local mairie. 

In some departments on France, particularly those that have been most affected by coronavirus such as around Paris and Marseille, there have been complaints of long waiting times to get tested.

A number of cities, such as Rouen, Tours, Angers, Marseille and Paris have announced in the past week new testing centres that will be freely available to everyone. 

What if you test positive

French government advice states that in general, most people recover with a few days of rest. While waiting - in self-isolation - people should monitor their condition:

Take your temperature twice per day. If you have a fever or a sore head you can take paracetamol, one gram, three times per day, but not Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories. If taking medication for another illness, continue to do so and if there are any doubts, phone your doctor. 

If the symptoms get worse, immediately phone a doctor or the emergency services on the number 15 (or 114 for people with impaired hearing). 

If you are a tourist in France and do not have a local doctor, you can read more about what to do here.

For more information, you can phone a free coronavirus hotline on 0 800 130 000. However, operators may not speak English. 

Make a list

If a person tests positive, they should make a list of all the people they have been in contact with in the past 48 hours, and send that list to their doctor. 

If the test is positive, the medical insurance (Assurance Maladie) services will contact the person to confirm this list. They will then contact all the people on the list to ask them to get tested. 

If a person tests negative, they should inform their doctor and then continue to follow standard safety rules. 

France also has a coronavirus tracking application called Stop Covid. If anyone tests positive for the virus, they can download the app and add their details to it. More information can be found here

What to do in self-isolation

If a person tests positive, they should self-isolate for at least eight days from the moment their symptoms started to appear, or if they do not have symptoms, eight days since they tested positive. If then they still do not have a fever or difficulties breathing, they must wait a further two days before they can end their self-isolation. 

During this time, a medical leave of absence from work can be obtained from the doctor. 

Everyone who tests positive should also receive a prescription that allows them to get surgical face masks for free for the duration of their self-isolation. These can be collected at any pharmacy. However the government is advising that someone else goes on behalf of the person with coronavirus. 

Getting supplies while in quarantine

Almost all major supermarkets in France offer a home delivery service, including Monoprix, Casino and Carrefour. Some of them offer free services to elderly, vulnerable or to pregnant women.

There are also food delivery companies such as Deliveroo or Uber Eats that are commonly used in all major cities in France. 

If none of these options are available, you should call the coronavirus help line.

Read more about testing:

What should I do if I get covid while on holiday in France?

Coronavirus tests in France: long queues and two-week waits

Covid-19 France: free tests for all as clusters investigated

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