What should I do if I get covid while on holiday in France?

I’m planning a holiday to France this summer and as a precaution I’d like to know what I should do if I develop Covid-19 symptoms while there.

28 July 2020
An image of a person carrying out a lateral flow test on a kitchen counter

Tests are readily available in France, although they will be payable from October 15, 2021. Pic: Mark Looker / Shutterstock

By Connexion journalist

[Article updated on September 28, 2021]

People who test positive for Covid-19 while on holiday in France are required to follow infection control measures as they would at home. 

Official French government instructions are that anyone displaying symptoms of Covid while in the country (cough, fever, runny nose, loss of taste or smell...), should take action straight away as follows. 

Firstly you should stay at home (or your hotel, Airbnb, etc), avoiding contact with people, and phone a doctor rather than going to the doctor's in person. 

If you do not know any local doctors you can call this non-premium cost number 09 72 72 99 09 for help in finding one. It is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 17:30.

If the doctor agrees that you may have Covid-19 he or she will ask you to take a free test. You must arrange to have this at a nearby testing centre as soon as possible (click here for a map of centres). 

You should stay in isolation until you have the test results. If you test positive you should remain in isolation until 10 days after you first experienced symptoms.

After this time you may leave isolation, unless you still have a temperature, in which case you should wait until it has gone back down, and then for an extra 48 hours.

If the symptoms get worse and you have trouble breathing, phone the emergency medical line on the number 15, or anyone with hearing difficulties they can message the service on 114. 

People displaying Covid-19 symptoms are being urged not to travel, which means that if you do develop symptoms while on holiday you will have to prolong your stay in France. 

According to TravelHealthPro, a medical resources website set up to advise British travellers on health matters, there are five steps to take if you develop Covid-19 symptoms abroad:

  • Self isolate

  • Call your health provider and/or insurance company to discuss what you should do.

  • Follow local public health guidance if available.

  • If you become unwell at an airport, bus or train station before or during a long trip, seek medical advice and do not start or continue your journey.

  • Once you have fully recovered, check with your health provider if you are fit to travel, before any onward travel.

Even if you contract Covid while in France, you will still need to follow testing and other entry requirements when return to your home country. 

Those who need to carry out a pre-departure test but who have just recovered from Covid should consider using a lateral flow rather than a PCR test, as these less sensitive devices are less likely to pick up the traces of previous infection and produce a false positive.

How to get tested for coronavirus in France

Coronavirus nose swab PCR and antigen tests are now available for anyone in France. Anyone taking the test will be asked to give contact details and may be asked to show proof of address (bill or pay slip, etc.) and show a valid ID.

From October 15, these tests will cease to be free unless prescribed by a doctor or in the case of children. 

PCR tests will cost €49 (where paid for). Rapid antigen tests will cost €29.

Further information about testing is available (in French) here. 

France has also opened testing centres at many different tourist hotspots around the country, including at train stations, picnic areas and airports.

Most PCR test results will be available within 36 hours, while antigen tests return results within half an hour. 

Read more about Covid-19 in France:

Covid-19: Rules for travel to and from France

France could approve Pfizer vaccine for under 12s by end of this year

Will your area of France be among first to relax health pass rules?

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