Health Minister Olivier Véran announced yesterday (February 18) that anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will, from Monday, need to self-isolate for a period of 10 days rather than seven.
He said this decision was down to the “high proportion of Covid-19 variants”.
“Some scientific studies raise the possibility that variants may be responsible for a longer period of contagiousness than the classic Covid-19,” Mr Véran said during a press conference.
Recent checks on positive Covid-19 tests show that 36% of positive tests show the UK variant of Covid-19, Mr Véran said. A further 5% of positive tests show the South African and Brazilian variants.
Mr Véran did not clarify which scientific studies he was referring to.
The self-isolation period in France had already been set at the beginning of February to 10 days for anyone who tests positive with the South African or Brazilian variants.
The new measure means that everyone who tests positive for Covid-19, regardless of if they have a variant, will have to self-isolate for 10 days and take a second test to end the quarantine.
The period of self-isolation for contact cases - those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 - will remain at seven days.
What do I do if I test positive for Covid-19?
You must immediately self-isolate and remain quarantined for 10 days. After that period, as long as you have not had a fever in the past 48 hours, you can take a second PCR test. If it is negative, you can leave self-isolation, if it is positive, you must continue isolating for another seven days.
During your period of isolation, you should take your temperature twice a 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 you are taking medication for another illness, continue to do so and if there are any doubts, telephone your doctor.
If the symptoms get worse, immediately call a doctor or the emergency services on the number 15 (114 for people with impaired hearing).
After a positive test you should make a list of anyone you have been in contact with in the past 48 hours and send it to your doctor.
I do not have a doctor in France, what do I do?
If you do not have a doctor in France, you can find one on the website Doctolib. There, you can search for médecin généraliste and type in your location. You will see a list of doctors in your area. If you click on their profile and scroll down you will see what languages they speak, should you prefer an English-speaking doctor.
This website is easy to use but does not have all the doctors in France on it. For a more comprehensive list, you can search the country's health directory here.
For more information, you can phone a free coronavirus hotline on 0800 130 000. However, operators may, of course, not speak English.
Why has the self-isolation period been extended to 10 days?
Researchers at Harvard University in the US published a small-scale study on the matter on February 10.
It examined a sample of 65 people who tested positive for Covid-19. Of these, seven were found to have been infected by the UK variant.
The average duration of infection in those with the UK variant was found to be 13.3 days, compared to 8.2 for the original Covid-19 strain.
The authors of the study have suggested that this extended period could be the cause for why the strain is more contagious.
This study has not yet been peer reviewed.