More than 2,500 laboratories in France now offer the coronavirus screening test. An exam now 100% reimbursed by Health Insurance.
“France is ready to test massively”, declared the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, a few days before the deconfinement. Since the French have been free to leave their homes since Monday, May 11, the question of screening now appears to be central to combating the epidemic of Covid-19. What type of test to practice? At what moment ? How to benefit from it and where to find a laboratory? So many questions to which franceinfo answers you.
What type of test to practice?
Virological PCR tests. To find out if you are infected with the virus, only one type of test is useful: the virological RT-PCR which will detect if the genetic material of the virus is present in your respiratory tract. The examination, which lasts only a few seconds, consists of introducing a swab into the patient’s nasal cavity in order to recover the RNA from the virus.
If the result is positive, it means that you are a carrier of Sars-CoV-2: avoid contact with others and watch for any worsening of your health. If the test is negative, chances are you are not carrying the virus, but it is impossible to be 100% sure. You may be in the incubation period of the disease and have a viral load that is too low to be detected. You can also be a “false negative”, which happens in about 30% of cases, according to some studies.
Serological tests. Serological tests, which consist of a blood test for antibodies, do not have the same purpose. They’re useful for knowing if you’ve been in contact with the virus in the past, but don’t tell if you’re immune, as pointed out by the High Authority for Health. These tests are only indicated in very specific situations (for example for people developing symptoms after a negative PCR test, or for nursing staff in frequent contact with the public). These serological tests, which are still not validated by the health authorities and do not open the right to reimbursement, are not currently part of the management strategy.
When to be tested?
If symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 appear (fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, respiratory discomfort, etc.), you must immediately consult your doctor, who will certainly prescribe a PCR test to be performed in the laboratory. analyzes. In the event of a positive test, the doctor will then ask you for the names and contact details of the people you have met, so that they can contact them and ask them to be tested.
If you have no symptoms, but have been identified as a contact case of a sick person, it is advisable to perform a PCR test seven days after the contact in question, since this is the time when the virus is most likely to be detected. If done too early, the risk of “false negative” increases.
Is a prescription compulsory?
If you are symptomatic, a prescription is compulsory. It will be requested by the laboratory which will carry out the PCR test. To obtain this prescription, you do not have to physically go to the doctor’s office (it is even highly inadvisable): prefer telephone contact.
If you do not have an attending physician or that the latter is not available, you must call the Social Security platform on 09 72 72 99 09 (call not surcharged), who will direct you to a practitioner. Outside opening hours or in case of severe symptoms, you can call 15.
If you are a person identified as a contact case, you can undergo screening directly, without going through the doctor’s box. Please note: this must have been registered as a contact case in the “Contact Covid” health insurance database. The laboratory will verify your presence in this base before performing the test.
Is screening reimbursed?
The cost of a PCR test is 54 euros. Since March 7, this amount was reimbursed at 60% by Social Security, the rest being covered by mutuals. Since May 11, it is reimbursed 100% by Health Insurance.
Serological tests are not currently reimbursed by Social Security. However, they may soon be approved once they have been approved by the health authorities.
Do all laboratories perform these tests?
Not all city laboratories offer PCR tests to screen for Sars-CoV-2. The sante.fr site, set up by the ministry, lists the 2,506 screening points spread over the territory. By entering your postal code, you immediately identify the laboratory closest to you.
It is advisable not to go unexpectedly to the laboratory for the test. Regarding Covid-19 screening, some laboratories only operate in the form of a “drive”. Others, if their premises allow, welcome patients by appointment during dedicated time slots. “In my laboratory, we are open for routine biology in the morning, and for Covid-19 in the afternoon, only by appointment”, indicates for example the president of the Syndicate of biologists, François Blanchecotte.
Do the laboratories have enough tests?
Currently, patients have no difficulty getting tested, according to François Blanchecotte. “We have bought so many reagents, I even wonder if we are going to be left with them in the fridge! he jokes. If there is an explosion of cases somewhere, with 1000 or 2000 tests to be done in the same place, there may be a problem with the arm, the number of samplers “, he warns, however.
The week before the deconfinement, nearly 70,000 tests were carried out (including around 1,500 positive), according to Ministry of Health data. It remains to be seen whether deconfinement will make the circulation of the virus jump, or whether the epidemic can be brought under control.