Home Covid tests will continue to be sold in supermarkets in France until February 15, two weeks longer than initially planned, the government has confirmed.
Selling tests in supermarkets has helped to satisfy the still-high demand, as Omicron continues to spread, it said.
It stated: “The authorisation of retail sales…of self-tests outside of pharmacies has made it possible to meet the very high demand. The sustainability of the screening strategy, in a context of intense circulation of the Omicron variant...implies…a fifteen-day extension.”
Pharmacists did not welcome the sale of tests in supermarkets when it was first announced, saying that this would cause stock shortages in pharmacies.
The arrival of the Omicron variant has caused record cases of Covid in France, and a consequent spike in the number of tests being done.
Already, in January alone, tests (including self-tests, antigen and PCR) have cost the state €1.5billion, said Oliver Dussopt, Minister at the Ministry of Public Action and Accounts, yesterday. This compares to €6.9billion for the whole of the year 2021.
Authorities cannot enforce when people use Covid self-tests, but they have been recommended for use in two situations.
- Firstly, for people who want to check their health status before seeing family and friends or attending a social gathering. In this instance, the test should be taken the same day as the gathering or, at most, within the previous 24 hours.
- Secondly, self-tests could also be used in cases where regular, targeted testing is required as an alternative to rapid antigen tests, for example in schools and universities.
They do not require a prescription.
In March last year, when self-tests first became available in France, health director Professor Jérôme Salomon said: “The tests can be used as a reassurance, and we can take them often.”