Walk-in Covid-19 testing centres have been set up outside five train stations near Paris by the Red Cross in partnership with the Ile-de-France region.
The centres use rapid antigen tests, which give results within 15 minutes.
Rapid tests help ‘protect colleagues'
President of the Red Cross in the Ile-de-France, Philippe Le Gall, was present at the testing centre at the Val-de-Fontenay train station this morning (November 4). He told news source BFMTV: “At any moment, passengers can easily come to the Red Cross tent in a station.
“They are here because they going to work, and coming back from work they can get tested. Fifteen minutes later, if they know they might be positive they can protect all their colleagues the next day.”
The Val-de-Fontenay centre has capacity to test 200-300 people every day. Other testing centres are operating at Versailles Chantier, Ermonte-Eaubonne, Saint-Denis, and Juvisy stations.
The scheme will be extended to the 50 largest stations in the region next week.
Airports in Paris introduced on-site rapid antigen tests in October.
Rapid Covid tests also available in pharmacies
This comes as rapid antigen tests are being made available, on appointment, in pharmacies in France. Up to 50% of pharmacies are expected to be able to provide the tests by November 10.
The tests are available, as a priority, to people aged under 65 without pre-existing conditions that make them vulnerable to serious reactions to Covid-19. They may be either asymptomatic or have been experiencing symptoms for less than four days.
Tests are available in pharmacies without prescriptions and are free for patients, although pharmacies will bill the assurance maladie a maximum price of €8.05, excluding tax.
They are also currently available in some doctors’ and nurses’ surgeries.
Who should take a rapid antigen test?
Rapid antigen tests are taken by nasal swab. Health authorities have advised that priority for tests should be given to people experiencing Covid-19 symptoms.
Laurent Peillard, head of the pharmacy and biology department for regional health body l’ARS in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, told local news source France 3: “This test is highly effective for people who have high levels of the virus. That is to say people that could be considered ‘super spreaders’, who could be contagious, whether they have symptoms or not.”
The Assurance Maladie website says if a person tests positive for Covid-19 after taking a rapid antigen test they must provide a list of potential contacts to health authorities, self-isolate and monitor their health situation.