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France to end free COVID-19 tests to boost vaccination

A nasal swab is the most widely used technique to collect samples for coronavirus testing.

PCR and antigen tests will no longer be available for free, except to patients with a medical prescription

Paris, France | Xinhua | France will stop offering free coronavirus tests by mid-October, in a move to promote vaccination and avoid drastic measures to halt the spread of more infectious variants, the government’s spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced on Wednesday.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and antigen tests will no longer be available for free, except to patients with a medical prescription. “Testing does not protect,” Attal emphasized. “Repeated tests do not prevent people from going to the hospital or getting infected.”

“By mid-October, everyone will have had time to get organized and take responsibility for himself,” he added.

According to government figures, as of Aug. 10, France had administered 45 million first doses of COVID-19 vaccines, representing 67.2 percent of its total population, while more than half of the country’s population of 67 million have received both doses.

The French government aims to have administered 50 million first shots and have 35 million people fully vaccinated by the end of August. It hopes to achieve herd immunity, where 90 percent of eligible people would be vaccinated, by this autumn.

After a virtual defense council on the epidemic situation, President Emmanuel Macron also decided to give booster shots to the elderly and most vulnerable from September onwards.

Other measures to halt the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 include the mandatory ‘health pass’ in shopping centers whose surface area exceeds 20,000 square meters in departments where the incidence rate is over 200 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Meanwhile, the situation in France’s overseas territories is “dramatic”. With intensive care beds running out in Guadeloupe, a strict lockdown has been ordered, while in Martinique, beaches and shops selling non-essential products have been shut down for three weeks and tourists asked to leave the island.

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Xinhua

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