Million extra Covid tests taken in France since health pass extension

People aged 26-40 have driven up testing numbers as negative results give access to cultural and leisure spaces

29 July 2021
A woman getting a Covid test. Million extra Covid tests taken in France since health pass extension

A new record for the highest number of tests done in one day was set on Friday, July 23 Pic: Marian Weyo / Shutterstock

By Joanna York

The number of Covid tests carried out in France rose 50% in the last week following the use of the health pass being introduced in cultural and leisure spaces.

The health pass (pass sanitaire) provides proof of a person’s Covid status through vaccination or test certificates. It is currently required for access to public spaces including cinemas, theatres, places of worship, swimming pools, gyms.

From July 19-25, 3.6million PCR and antigen tests were done, compared with 2.4million the previous week.

To use a negative test result as a form of health pass the test must have been taken within the previous 48 hours, meaning tests taken on July 19 would have been valid for use on July 21, when the new health pass rules were introduced. 

A new record for the number of tests done in one day was set at 834,000 on July 23. The previous daily record (814,000) was set on December 23, just before Christmas celebrations. 

In the past week demand has risen most sharply – up 75% – among the 26-40 age group.

The rise in the number of people getting tested has not had an impact on the time it takes to return results.

DREES, the research, studies and evaluations arm of the Health Ministry said in the week of 19-25 July, 97% of tests were returned within 24 hours and 99% were returned the same day or the day after being taken.

Read more: ‘Health pass effect’ brings optimism for autumn

How to get a Covid test if you live in France or are visiting 

PCR and antigen tests are currently available without a prescription and at no cost for people who live in France, even those who are not covered by social security.

This will change in autumn 2021, as fees for taking tests will be introduced. 

Read more: €49 for a PCR test without prescription from autumn

Tourists visiting France already have to pay, with PCR tests costing €49 and antigen tests costing €29.

Medical professionals can carry out tests in pharmacies, testing centres, doctor’s surgeries (including some dentists, physiotherapists, etc.) veterinary clinics and more. 

A full list of places where you can be tested in each department is available here, and a version with a map is available here

You do not need an appointment to get a test in a testing centre. These are often set up in tents or mobile units in town squares, supermarket car parks and other busy public areas.

You do need an appointment to get tested in other locations. These can be booked via the Doctolib website under dépistage Covid-19 test antigénique or dépistage Covid-19 test PCR.

Antigen tests are recommended for people who have been experiencing Covid symptoms for up to four days, and for non-symptomatic contact cases, possible cluster cases and large-scale testing operations in schools, care homes, etc. 

In all other cases, (such as having a prescription from a doctor or verifying a positive antigen test result) PCR tests are advised.

Related stories

New French health pass rules will start August 9, says government

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