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Covid test rate at ‘unprecedented’ high, French Health Ministry states

The increase is due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the ministry said

Covid testing centre France

France is one of the top 10 countries in the world in terms of the number of Covid tests taken per person Pic: sylv1rob1 / Shutterstock

Around 9.5 million Covid tests have been taken in France since the beginning of 2022, an increase of 25% from the week before, figures from the Health Ministry show. 

“The most recent testing figures have reached unprecedented proportions,” the ministry’s statement read. 

This includes 2.86 million PCR tests, and 6.65 million rapid antigen tests taken between December 31 and January 6.

The Health Ministry stated that the increase in testing was due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, leading to an exceptional increase in cases and people testing. 

The number of tests being taken now is far higher than during previous Covid waves in France. For example, in December 2020, just over 3 million tests were carried out each week, and in August 2021 this number was at 5.9 million.

Read more: Covid: ‘The more we test, the more we panic,’ says French doctor

Under 18s have in particular been testing more. Since January 3, more than one in four tests have been taken by children.

There are currently around 6 million self-testing kits in stock in pharmacies, as of January 7, Franceinfo reported. Some 11 million more self-tests have been ordered by pharmacists for next week (beginning January 10). 

France one of world’s biggest testers, but not as big as politicians believe

French Prime Minister Jean Castex claimed in an interview with BFMTV on Thursday (January 6) that France is the country that tests the second most in the world. 

He is not the first leading member of the government to make a claim like this. On January 3, Health Minister Olivier Véran said “there is hardly any country that tests as much as us”. 

While Mr Castex’s assertions might be exaggerated, Mr Véran’s statement is more accurate.

France is not the country that tests the second most in the world, but it is in the top 10 for testing in proportion to the number of citizens, according to figures from OurWorldinData

Ahead of France is Cyprus, Austria, Slovakia, Latvia, Greece, Denmark, Israel, Singapore and the UK. 

Europe is by far and away the continent that tests the most in the world, with France testing more than all countries outside of Europe, except Israel and Singapore.  

full-list-cumulative-total-tests-per-thousand-map Pic: OurWorldinData

Related stories:

Coronavirus: Daily updates on the situation in France

New French Omicron figures show variant makes up suspected 80% cases

Five Covid test and vaccine updates for France this week

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