Five-hour wait for Covid tests as France targets 1m per week

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A lab center saw queues of people around the block wait until five a.m. on Saturday, August 29. reported news service FranceInfo. Under the new testing rules, many labs in the city are offering Covid-19 walk-in testing for everyone, even those without a prescription, symptoms, or appointment.Wait times of up to five hours have been reported among ‘walk-ins’, but even those trying to book an exam online may also have to wait 10 days or even two weeks for the first appointment. available.

A woman waiting in Paris said: “I’ve been waiting now for three and a half hours, almost four hours. It’s scandalous. ”

Labs and testing centers across the country have reported similar delays, as the government continues its plan for mass testing.

Health Minister Olivier Véran said the country is now performing 890,000 tests nationwide per week, and added that he would like to see the figure “rise to one million tests per week in the short term.”

He said, “We want to make testing available to anyone who needs or wants one.”

Read more: France targets 1 million Covid tests: what to do in the event of a positive result

Although mass testing was recommended as a good strategy at the start of the epidemic, some epidemiologists criticized the rapid increase and overloaded laboratories called on the government to adopt a “more targeted” strategy.

Lionel Barrand, from the union of biologists the National Union of Young Biologists, Told FranceInfo: “What we need to do is target people who have symptoms, cases that have come into contact with or are at risk. There’s no point in testing “Ms. Whoever” on the street every week, when she’s been home all week.

Faster saliva tests?

For its part, the government said it continues to consider the viability of new testing methods, such as saliva testing, which are faster and less invasive than the PCR nasal swab process currently in use.

Yet, the accuracy of saliva tests (known as RT-PCR) is currently estimated at 70%, which is not considered high enough to make them truly reliable.

Read more: French scientists examine Covid-19 saliva tests

This weekend (Sunday, August 30), the government announced that it was awaiting the conclusions of a series of new studies on the effectiveness of saliva tests before deciding whether or not to deploy them more widely.

One of these tests was launched in the French overseas territory Guyana, at the hospital center the Andrée Rosemon Hospital Center in Cayenne.

Another study should start “in the coming days” in the large Parisian hospital group Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP).

The studies will mainly focus on the effectiveness of the “rapid” saliva test called EasyCov, developed by the Montpellier laboratory Sys2Diag. In theory, this test can give a result with a small amount of saliva and does not require the subject to go to a city or hospital lab.

Health authority the General Directorate of Health (DGS) said, “In mass testing, we need to be able to separate sick people from non-sick people quickly and without too many errors. The test should have good sensitivity.

He continued, “If these tests prove to be sensitive, they can be used ‘in the field’ for rapid testing in high traffic areas, such as airports.”

People who have a positive saliva test and who are “suspected of being sick” will then be invited to take “a more reliable test for confirmation,” he said.

Covid-19 in France: last update

The news of the test comes as France announced 5,400 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, in its latest update (Sunday, August 30).

While the absolute number of new cases has plummeted, the France Public Health agency said the “level of positivity” continued to increase, from 4.1% over the past seven days, to 4% on Saturday, against 3.6% Wednesday.

The number of local cluster outbreaks being investigated has increased by 40 in the past 24 hours, to a total of 346.

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