Free self-tests for children contact case: how does it work?

On the evening of a day of national mobilization – followed, in primary education, at 38.5% according to the ministry and 75% according to the unions – the Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, made commitments on Thursday January 13. One of them being to no longer modify the health protocol in force in primary schools, although this has been widely criticized in recent weeks and has already been changed nineteen times in two years.

To return to school after a positive case in his class, a child must always perform three self-tests. But when his son Matteo was contacted by a comrade for the second time in two weeks, Sébastien Chevalier had to run to pharmacies in search of these screening devices.

Pharmacists then said “to be able to sell us some but [pas] give us some [gratuitement] despite the certificate from the school that we had”, explains the father, who was forced to pay for self-tests found in supermarkets.

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Three free self-tests upon certification

Several parents have faced the same difficulty in recent days, an unfortunate consequence “difficult to follow instructions”, regrets Philippe Besset, president of the Federation of Pharmaceutical Unions of France (FSPF). One “Understandable mess in this period”, also relating to Pierre Beguerie, president of the central council of the order of pharmacists. The Department of Education actually provides that these three self-tests are delivered free of charge to the parents of children who have been contacted in the school environment. This provision has even existed since the beginning of January, when only two self-tests were then covered by Medicare since the first test had to be PCR or antigenic, and was adapted to the change in protocol this Friday.

Certain pharmacies only – moreover the only establishments in which it is possible to obtain self-tests free of charge – “showed flexibility [cette semaine], but from now on, all, without exception, must provide three for free”, confirmed the Ministry of Education in World.

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“The instruction had been passed to accept the parents’ sworn statements while waiting for the official models”, explains Mr. Besset, because this issue free of charge is indeed subject to the presentation of a letter from the school certifying that the child is a contact case. The model of this letter was sent to schools on Friday, the ministry said.

“Stocks everywhere”, Friday

The difficulties in obtaining self-tests over the past two weeks are largely due to tensions in the supply chain in the face of exploding demand at the heart of this fifth wave of Covid-19 in France. The eleven million self-tests ordered at the end of last week made it possible to meet the needs fairly well, and “from next week it will be perfect”, assures Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the Union of Community Pharmacists (USPO).

” Today [vendredi 14 janvier], there are stocks everywhere. Information was sent to pharmacies telling them that they had to distribute them”, he adds. During a visit to a health product distribution warehouse in Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis), government spokesman Gabriel Attal also promised that there would be no shortage of self-tests.

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To meet very high demand – and as a new record of twelve million tests per week was reached the week of January 3 to 9 – “the France Public Health State stock of self-tests has been destocked”, he announced. “It was a stock of 2.5 million self-tests close to expiry which were delivered on Monday to the wholesaler-distributor intended for pharmacies in Ile-de-France only”, specifies Philippe Besset. The objective is to avoid ruptures. From now on, “there is no more state stock, the supply must be done by orders which are invoiced by third-party payment to the Health Insurance”, he summarizes.

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Free self-tests for children contact case: how does it work?