Paris Makes Free Covid-19 Tests Available Citywide

People wearing protective masks leave a Paris metro station as France/Picture Courtesy: RFI

Paris city officials rolled out new testing labs on Monday and announced it would soon be possible to get tested for Covid-19 for free in all 20 districts of the French capital.

The city, in partnership with regional and national health services, said it would “propose sites of free testing in every district, available to anyone, including those without social security”.

The city website indicates addresses in each of the districts, known as arrondissements, where free testing is available.

Also on Monday, the city launched three permanent laboratories to conduct free tests, as well as two mobile laboratories.

“With the number of cases rising everyone on national territory, testing is of primordial importance in the fight against the spread of the virus,” city officials wrote in a statement.

“The City of Paris has decided to reinforce its free testing capacity and to facilitate access to tests everywhere on municipal territory.”

The bolstered testing capacity comes as the country faces rising numbers and rates of infection.

Although there has been no corresponding rise in hospitalisations, Paris officials are wary as students and pupils prepare to go back to school and many residents return to the densely-populated city from summer holidays.

Wearing face masks became compulsory in public places around the capital on Friday, even outdoors, with exemptions for joggers, cyclists and children under 11.

Masks will be obligatory for children over 11 when they return to school on Tuesday, including on breaks.

The Covid-19 crisis echoed harshly the social inequalities in health that Parisian institutions have been fighting for years.
Some territories were hit by high mortality during the peak of the Covid-19 epidemic; the reasons for this excess mortality are complex and multiple: they probably combine factors related to housing, employment and transport conditions, access to information and care; all this testifies to the close link between living conditions and the impact of the virus.
During the epidemic peak, the Regional Health Agency ( ARS ) and its partners implemented numerous measures to deal with this situation: specific communication, mobile teams, etc.
With deconfinement, other risks of inequalities may appear in the fight to break the chains of transmission: the problems of access to care and prevention, particularly because of the social difficulties of residents, access to information, the more marked scarcity of first-resort medical resources can hinder knowledge of preventive measures as well as screening.
In areas with strong public response needs, it is necessary to invent ways to get as close as possible to the inhabitants. Among these means, the ARS and its partners have decided to initiate the establishment of mobile sites (tents) facilitating access to screening. The municipalities where these tents are offered are primarily located in areas where mortality has been high and where social difficulties are greater.
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