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France rolls out rapid COVID-19 antigen testing at airports from Monday

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France is to introduce rapid antigen Covid-19 tests at airports from Monday, the country’s transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari has announced. “We are going to launch the tests in airports, especially on departure to destinations such as the United States or Italy, and for arrivals from countries in the high risk zones, so that we no longer have people returning from these countries in French territory without being tested,” he told the French news channel CNews. The tourism industry stakeholders such as tour operators, hotels and restaurants had asked the government to establish rapid tests at airports to facilitate travel, Radio France Internationale wrote.

For those departing only people who have a negative test result will be permitted to board. It is thought that the tests may also lead to less need for quarantines or other strict measures; however, current border restrictions, and individual country rules still apply, regardless of a positive or negative result, according to The Connexion.

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What exactly are these antigenic tests?

Antigen tests are nasal swabs like the PCR test, but the results are delivered on the spot and take between 15 and 30 minutes. With the PCR test, it must be sent away to the lab so results usually take between 24 and 48 hours.

The antigen test is most reliable in case of a positive testing. However, if the test is negative there is a slight chance that the test misses detecting an infection. This is why people at risk should do a PCR test to double-check, as reported by The Local France.

IATA research says that there is a low risk of COVID-19 Transmission Inflight

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