France - testing

French health authority recommends Covid self-tests for children

While the vaccine-roll-out is increasing in France and other countries in the EU, Covid-19 self-testing is being encouraged.
While the vaccine-roll-out is increasing in France and other countries in the EU, Covid-19 self-testing is being encouraged. AP - Virginia Mayo

France’s top health authority has said Covid-19 self-testing kits are safe for children as well as adults and called for a mass rollout in schools to help fight the spread of the new coronavirus. 

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The Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS) said in a press release that quick self-tests, authorised in France for over-15s on 21 March and sold in pharmacies, showed “encouraging results among children”.

The tests, known as autotests in France, are easy-to-use rapid antigen tests.

The PCR and regular antigen tests that pharmacies and testing centres offer involve inserting a long nasal swab all the way up the nose, something that especially children detest.

The self-test swabs don’t need to be inserted so far into the nasal passage as they are shorter.

Covid-19 auto test set.
Covid-19 auto test set. © ELLUME

In March, HAS said the tests should only be used by people aged over 15, as at that time research had not established evidence of benefits among children.

But the national health body revised that advice after new findings were published, saying the tests were “relevant to crack down on transmission chains, particularly in schools”.

It recommended eliminating the age limit set in March and start providing large-scale testing with the self-tests in all creches, primary and secondary schools as well as universities.

Widespread testing with saliva tests already takes place in schools.

Back to school, but keep a distance

France on Monday reopened primary schools after a three-week pause in an attempt to curb the country’s still high Covid rates.

Junior high and high school pupils were still following classes online for another week before their scheduled return to classrooms on 3 May.

The government last week confirmed plans to start reopening non-essential shops and cultural sites “from mid-May” and ease some Covid restrictions, such as a 10 km-radius rule limiting “non-essential travel”.

France’s weekly average of daily Covid cases dipped below the 30,000 mark on Monday, continuing a descent that began in early April when the lockdown measures began to take effect.

Figures of newly infected cases in France show a downgoing trend after a third lockdown took effect in April 2021.
Figures of newly infected cases in France show a downgoing trend after a third lockdown took effect in April 2021. © Screenshot Worldometers

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