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

I’m planning a holiday to France this summer and as a precaution I’d like to know what I should do if I develop Covid-19 symptoms while there.

28 July 2020
Free coronavirus nose swab (PCR) tests are now available for “absolutely anyone” in France
By Connexion journalist

Official French government instructions are that anyone displaying symptoms of Covid-19 while in the country (cough, fever, runny noise, loss of taste or smell...), should take action straight away as follows. 

Firstly you should stay at home (or your hotel, Airbnb, etc), avoiding contact with people, and phone a doctor rather than going to the doctor's. If you do not know any local doctors you can call this non-premium cost number 09 72 72 99 09 for help in finding one. It is open daily 8:00 to 19:00.

If the doctor agrees that you may have Covid-19 he or she will ask you to take a free test. You must arrange to have this at a nearby testing centre as soon as possible (click here for a map of centres). 

You should stay in isolation until you have the test results. If you test positive you should remain in isolation. After 14 days, if you are no longer displaying any symptoms and feel well, you can travel again or go home; there is no need to get a second test or consult a doctor. 

If the symptoms get worse and you have trouble breathing, phone the emergency medical line on the number 112, or anyone with hearing difficulties they can message the service on 114. 

People displaying Covid-19 symptoms are being urged not to travel, which means that if you do develop symptoms while on holiday you may have to prolong your stay in France. 

According to TravelHealthPro, a medical resources website set up to advise British travellers on health matters, there are four steps to take if you develop Covid-19 symptoms abroad:

  • Call your health provider and/or insurance company to discuss what you should do.
  • Follow local public health guidance if available.
  • If you become unwell at an airport, bus or train station before or during a long trip, seek medical advice and do not start or continue your journey.
  • Once you have fully recovered, check with your health provider if you are fit to travel, before any onward travel.

How to get tested for coronavirus in France

Free coronavirus nose swab (PCR) tests are now available for “absolutely anyone” in France – one of a raft of extra measures intended to reduce the risks of a second Covid-19 wave and new confinement rules. Anyone taking the test will be asked to give contact details and may be asked to show proof of address (bill or pay slip, etc.) and show a valid ID.

They will not have to pay and will not have to be in the French health system or be a resident in France. This means that people getting tested do not need to have a carte vitale

There are 3,200 testing centres in France, and no prescription is needed. 

France has also recently begun opening new testing centres at many different tourist hotspots around the country, including at train stations, picnic areas and even beaches across the country, in addition to the extra testing services opened in airports in recent days.

Most test results will be available within 36 hours.

The French government recommends having a test only if you have reason to think you may have caught the virus as demand is expected to be high. Call 0 800 130 000 or see mesconseilscovid.fr for more advice. The tests are usually undertaken by a doctor or nurse but other professions have been authorised to do so, such as firefighters and nursing auxiliaries.

Read more about Covid-19 in France:

What reconfinement in France would mean for tourists

How worrying is France's coronavirus R-rate rise?

Tourist areas in France open Covid test sites as cases rise

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