France prepares COVID tests for travelers from countries at risk


PARIS (Reuters) – France’s busiest airport was preparing on Friday to start testing passengers for COVID-19 upon arrival from high-risk countries, a measure that could reduce the need for quarantine measures causing pains to the tourism industry across Europe.

Health workers wearing protective gear wait for passengers to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Roissy, near Paris , France on July 31, 2020. REUTERS / Christian Hartmann

Saturday morning around 6 a.m., the head of the Paris public hospital, Benjamin Paumier, will lead a team of around thirty testers working in a makeshift space near the baggage claim at Charles de Gaulle airport.

Anyone disembarking from one of the 12 countries identified by the French government will be required to visit the testers. A worker will register their contact details and then direct them to a colleague who will insert a swab into their nasal passage to collect a sample for testing.

Travelers are then authorized to continue their journey. Test results will be communicated between 24 and 48 hours later, when travelers are contacted by public health officials.

“The test (the results) are not immediately available. We don’t know if someone is positive or negative, ”Paumier told Reuters at the airport.

“But the goal is to follow these people, especially the positive ones, to follow them and find out who they’ve been in contact with.”


With fears in Europe of a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, some governments have advised against traveling to high-risk destinations or told travelers they must self-quarantine upon their return.

This has aroused the ire of some vacationers and the travel and tourism industry, who say it is a blunt instrument. Travel officials have offered on-arrival testing as a way to curb the outbreak without disrupting travel plans.

Charles de Gaulle Airport tested the tests – on a voluntary basis – near a bureau de change in the arrivals area. Paumier supervises a team of around fifteen workers who tests nearly 1,000 people per day.

But from Saturday morning, Paumier said: “We will have a team twice as big as the one we have here because we will have a much heavier workload.

Vincent Lemire, 47, volunteered to take a test on Friday after a flight from Tel Aviv. Israel is among the countries whose travelers will be subject to mandatory tests from Saturday.

“It seems logical,” Lemire said of the new rules. “You know you have passports, customs, luggage. And now you have tests.

Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Giles Elgood

Our standards:Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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