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Rapid antigen tests

France to roll out rapid antigen Covid tests at airports from Monday

Antigen tests will be introduced at airports in Paris by the end of October.
Antigen tests will be introduced at airports in Paris by the end of October. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
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France is to introduce rapid antigen Covid-19 tests at airports from next Monday, the country’s transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has announced. 

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“We are going to launch the tests in airports, especially on departure to destinations such as the United States or Italy, and for arrivals from countries in the high risk zones, so that we no longer have people returning from these countries in French territory without being tested,” he told the French news channel CNews.

Djebbari’s announcement comes after French President Emmanuel Macron said in his TV interview last Wednesday that antigen tests will be introduced to reduce the delay in getting results from the PCR tests.

The tourism industry stakeholders such as tour operators, hotels and restaurants had asked the government to establish rapid tests at airports to facilitate travel.

Meanwhile, France’s ministry of health paved the way for a wider deployment of antigen tests by authorising their reimbursement by social security for people presenting symptoms.

According to a government decree, doctors, pharmacists or nurses can perform the test on asymptomatic people (except in contact cases or cluster cases) or on symptomatic patients, but only if a PCR test cannot be obtained within 48 hours and if the antigen test is carried out within the first four days of symptoms.

Similar to the PCR tests, the antigen tests are carried out by taking samples from nostrils by swab. However, unlike the PCR test which detects the presence of virus by identifying its RNA and requires laboratory analysis, the antigen test takes 15 minutes to spot the surface proteins on the virus.

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