How France's Covid test and trace strategy became overwhelmed

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The spread of the Covid-19 virus is accelerating in France and already the country's testing system is struggling to cope. Many people are having to wait for tests, long queues have formed at testing stations and laboratories, and delays in results themselves – which can be up to five days – are “unacceptable”, the authorities admit. After pushing the policy of mass testing in the summer the government is now trying to rein back and give precedence to priority cases. Experts say that, once again, the national authorities have failed to anticipate events and demand. One glimmer of hope may be the arrival of new, much faster tests. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports.

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On Thursday September 17th the French health minister Olivier Véran held the first of what will become weekly regular briefings to inform the French public of the latest news about the SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 epidemic. The move marks a change from the first part of the epidemic in the spring when the country's top public health official, Jérôme Salomon, gave daily briefings.