France makes Covid-19 testing free of charge as infection rates rise

A healthcare worker collects a swab sample to be tested for Covid-19 in Strasbourg in May. (AP pic)

PARIS: French health authorities are making Covid-19 tests available free of charge without prescription as they closely monitor an uptick in infections after the lifting of lockdown measures.

PCR nasal swab tests, which detect Covid-19 infections caused by the novel coronavirus, will be freely available on demand under government orders published on Saturday.

“We wouldn’t describe this as a second wave, but what’s clear is that for several days now we have seen a noticeable increase in the number of confirmed cases, which had been in decline for 13 weeks,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said in an interview published in Le Parisien’s Sunday edition.

France has recorded 30,192 deaths attributed to the coronavirus, among a total of 180,528 cases of the disease, according to statistics published on Friday.

The number of new daily infections rose above 1,000 for a second day running – around their daily level when lockdown measures were eased in May, following two months of confinement.