top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

Operation means no nasal swabs: How can I get a Covid test in France?

Alternatives to nasopharyngeal swabbing exist such as salivary swabbing or oropharyngeal testing - we explain

Alternatives to nasopharyngeal swabbing exist: either at the back of the throat (oropharyngeal swab) or in the mouth (saliva test) Pic: Marmolejos / Shutterstock

Reader question: I have recently undergone an operation to remove polyps in my nasal area so I am unable to have a PCR or antigen test as I can not have swabs put into my nose cavities. What are my options for obligatory tests?

Nasal RT-PCR tests have the advantage of being effective in identifying the Covid virus in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. 

However, they pose a problem for some members of the population such as young children, very elderly patients, patients with psychiatric disorders and people with nasal issues such as after an operation.

For these groups, there are two other options for Covid 19 screening:

Test salivaire (saliva test)

Saliva sampling is performed by spitting into a collection tube. 

France’s Haute Autorité de Santé has confirmed that salivary RT-PCR tests are effective. The sensitivity of these tests is estimated at 85% (slightly lower - 3% to 11% - than that of nasal RT-PCR swab tests).

The HAS validated in February the use of saliva sampling if a patient is unable to perform a usual nasal swab test.

This test can be done by yourself or in a laboratory. The time taken for the laboratory to deliver the result of a saliva sample test is identical to the RT-PCR test on a usual nasal test swab.

If you decide to carry out this test yourself, be sure to follow HAS’ recommendations here

Test RT-PCR oropharyngé (oropharyngeal test)

The swab is introduced through the mouth to the back of the throat.

It can replace a nasal swab when there are contraindications (trauma or recent nasal surgery, bleeding diseases).

Unlike salivary tests, oropharyngeal tests are intended for people who are not symptomatic. 

To find out where to get tested near you and the types of tests available, check the Sante.fr website - you can filter, for example, for saliva tests.

Find help with navigating life in France with our new Reader Questions newsletter

Sign up for our pick of the week's questions from readers answered by the Connexion team – delivered to your inbox every Saturday.

See what other readers like you are asking including: How often is a rabies shot for dogs required for France-UK travel? Will my French health pass become invalid if I refuse my booster dose? ​​Can foreign residents benefit from France's pension top-up benefit? and more. 

Sign up for the free newsletter

Related articles

How to book your Covid-19 vaccination appointment in France

Will over 65s still get priority for Covid booster shots in France?

Delays reported in rush for booster Covid doses in France

France’s new non-EU traveller testing rules start December 4

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