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Covid contact cases in France: the rules for both Delta and Omicron

The rules are stricter if the Covid case is confirmed as the Omicron variant. Here is how it works

People classed as close contacts will be contacted by Assurance Maladie by email, text or phone Pic: Myriam B / Shutterstock

People in France who are found to have been infected with Covid, whether Delta  Omicron - or any other - variant must follow the same procedure.

However, people identified as close contacts of Omicron cases need to take stricter precautions than contact cases of people identified as infected with other variants. You can read more about this at the Ameli website (French site). 

We explain both scenarios:

Read more: 10% of people in France are Covid contact cases, says health minister

Close contacts of Delta cases; what to do 

If you are vaccinated: You must immediately take a PCR test and inform the people that you yourself have been in contact with, but do not need to quarantine.

If you are not vaccinated: You must self-isolate for seven days from when the contact takes place – or 17 days* if you live with the infected person. You must also immediately take a PCR test and inform the people with whom you have been in contact in the last two days.

*Members of the infected person’s household must quarantine for 17 days because they will be exposed to Covid for the 10 days of their relative or housemate’s self-isolation period, and could potentially catch the virus at the very end. They must therefore self-isolate for an extra week as a precautionary measure.

If you are immunosuppressed: You must follow the same steps as an unvaccinated person. 

In all cases: Everyone must also carry out a second PCR test on day seven after the contact, or on day 17* if they live with the person who has tested positive.

Close contacts of Omicron cases; what to do 

Note: You will be informed by the Assurance Maladie in this case to say that someone you have spent time with has or could have been infected with the Omicron variant.

In all cases, vaccinated or not and including immunosuppressed people: You must self-isolate for seven days from when the contact takes place – or 17 days* if you live with the infected person. You must also immediately take a PCR test and inform the people with whom you have been in contact .

You must also do an antigen test and, if this is positive, take a PCR to confirm the result. If it is negative, you will need to take another control antigen or PCR test at the end of your isolation period, as is the case with all Covid contacts.

You must also inform your own contacts that you have been close to someone who has Omicron so that they can take the necessary precautions.

What makes a person a close contact?

A close contact is defined as being: 

  • Someone who has been in direct contact with the confirmed case at a distance of less than two metres, face to face. This applies regardless of the duration of the contact: it could have been a meal, a conversation or a single hug

  • Someone who has given or received care or medical treatment to/from the person who has tested positive

  • Someone who has shared an inside space – office, meeting room, car or restaurant table, for example – for at least 15 consecutive minutes, or a total of 15 minutes accumulated over a 24 hour period. This also applies if you were in contact with the person for a shorter period of time but were facing them when they sneezed or coughed.

People classed as close contacts will be contacted by Assurance Maladie by email, text or phone after the individual who has tested positive shares details of the people they have spent time with recently. 

You can also be contacted directly by the infected person.

Positive cases (Delta and Omicron): what to do

If you receive a positive antigen test result, you must take a PCR test to confirm the result. 

You will then be contacted by Assurance Maladie, either by phone or text, if you have tested positive.

The health authorities may sequence your test sample to determine whether it belongs to the Omicron variant if your PCR result does not show any evidence of the three mutations of interest which are present in other variants and currently detected by such tests. 

France’s Direction générale de la santé has recommended that any positive PCR tests which return a ‘triple negative’ in terms of these mutations should be sequenced. 

If your test result does undergo further testing for Omicron-related mutations, you will still have to follow the rules applied to anyone who tests positive for Covid. 

These require you to: 

  • Isolate for 10 days from the start of your symptoms. If you are asymptomatic, you should isolate for 10 days after you take your PCR test. You can be granted time off work by visiting this Déclare.ameli page. 

  • Identify the people with whom you were in close contact in the 48 hours before you began experiencing symptoms, or in the past seven days if you do not have symptoms. They will then be contacted by Assurance Maladie.

  • Take note of how you are feeling. If you still have a temperature on the tenth day you should isolate until it has gone and then for a further 48 hours. If you are having breathing difficulties, ring 15. 

Assurance Maladie should provide you with information on what you need to do after you test positive and offer you any assistance you may need with regards to meal deliveries or domestic help. 

Related stories 

How to get a Covid test in France and when you have to pay

More cases, fewer deaths: How France’s 5th Covid wave compares so far

French lab: Our treatment can help with Omicron but awaits approval

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