top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

French senior doctors warn of lack of Covid airport measures

High-profile doctors in France have warned that French airport measures against Covid-19 are insufficient for people arriving in the country from abroad, as the virus shows signs of returning.

Professors Éric Caumes and Philippe Juvin - head of infectious diseases at the Pitié Salpêtrière hospital and emergency chief at Hôpital Pompidou respectively - made the comments to news source BFMTV late last week.

Professor Caumes said: “There are clusters that are developing from people who are coming back from trips and are not being put in quarantine...[which is] the only effective measure [against the virus]. Some countries to which people are going on holiday are demanding more than we are, for people coming to us.”

The professor had already warned the country about the possible risk from infected travellers around two weeks ago, in an interview with newspaper Le Parisien.

Read more: Read more: French department on ‘high alert’ after spike in Covid cases

‘Red list’ tests

The comments come as the government announced on Sunday (July 19) that travellers coming from so-called “red list” countries - those in which the virus is still judged to be at dangerous levels - would be given systematic Covid-19 tests upon arrival, or would need to prove that they tested negative at their place of departure.

Health minister Olivier Véran said that up to 2,000 tests could be done per day at Roissy Charles de Gaulle (Ile-de-France); while Toulouse Blagnac (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) airport also said it was set to introduce testing, especially for travellers arriving from Turkey and Algeria - where the virus remains widespread.

Travellers can either get a test as soon as they land, or be given a prescription to be tested at a town lab.

Read more: France introduces Covid tests for ‘at risk’ airport arrivals
Read more: When, where and how to get tested for coronavirus in France

But Professor Juvin joined the calls for more measures, saying that he was “surprised” as “everyday, planes land in the country, some coming from countries in which the virus is very active, and [all that] we ask them is - ‘Remember to fill in a form, on your honour’, on which they say they have no symptoms.”

He added: “It is absolutely necessary, not to close the borders, but that every person who arrives in the country is traced. And we have to test, and go to find people where they are - their workplace, or on holiday. There are not enough tests [in France].”

Professor Caumes has said that he believes that the country “has the capacity”, but has a “staff problem” to actually do the tests.

Read more: Top doctor says France ready for 700,000 PCR tests per week


Not enough early measures?

As far back as late January - when the virus was still only affecting the city of Wuhan in China - some travellers were already questioning the lack of measures imposed at Paris airports.

At the time, these consisted of posters put up in the terminal buildings, but no tests or thermal measuring for arrivals.

Then-health minister Agnès Buzyn said that she was following recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which at the time said that temperature controls at borders were only “optional”. She said: “All the experts are saying that it offers a false sense of security.”

But one French citizen, who arrived through Roissy on January 26, said: “We had no tests. I could have been a carrier of the virus [without realising it].”

Health experts have long warned of a potential second wave of the virus as deconfinement continues, and at the weekend, authorities in France warned that the virus was showing some signs of returning, with family reunions and individual events spreading infection more than before.

One high-profile doctor, Professor Jean-Michel Delfraissy, also warned that more people were “abandoning” safety measures such as hand washing and keeping a 1-2 metre distance; as others called for compulsory masks.

Masks in public, enclosed places in France are now compulsory, from today (Monday July 20).

Related stories

France confirms where masks are now mandatory

Coronavirus: which parts of France are seeing more cases?

Covid-19: where do I need to wear a mask?

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now