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Returning to the US from Abroad, August 18, 2021

One of the many obligations of travellers from the US returning from abroad is to produce a negative Covid-19 antigen test taken within 72 hours prior to their return to the US. Given that most flights from Europe to the US arrive in the US the day after they depart, this effectively means that the antigen tests of those travellers must be performed within the last 48 hours before their arrival in the US for them to be accepted, less than the 72 hours otherwise stated.

This requirement has created a certain amount of concern among our clients, causing some to worry where in France they can have their antigen tests performed in such a way as to comply with US regulations for returning home. For those spending their last days in France in Paris, this is not so much of an issue, because a large number of Parisian pharmacies perform the test and provide the results within ten or fifteen minutes, also at a reasonable cost (29€ per test).

But it is a different story for clients who are spending most of their time in the French provinces and returning back to Paris the night before to catch their flights back to the US. They have to plan to take time out from their touring to assure that they can be tested within the time frame required by the US. We have clients whose last four days in France next week are scheduled to be in Normandy, and we actually have had to eliminate some of their touring on their very last day so that they can be tested at a clinic in Bayeux, which will provide their results in time for them to depart the next day from Charles de Gaulle airport.

One of our clients has just brought to our attention the availability of an antigen test that travellers can procure themselves and self-administer, the results of which are accepted by US authorities. It is available at eMed.com, https://www.emed.com/products/covid-at-home-testkit-six-pack?hsLang=en, is manufactured by Abbott, and it provides results within 15 minutes. Using it requires downloading Abbott’s Navica application which is available at Google Play or Apple’s App Store. Users will also need to spend 15 minutes on-line to download the results into their computer, tablet or smart phone in a digital format that can be verified by the authorities.

This test is called the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag test, and is available in packs of six tests at a cost of US $ 150. Visit https://www.emed.com/products/covid-at-home-testkit-six-pack for details on how to order it. One concern is that the test kits need to be kept at temperatures above 2° and below 30° Celsius (35.6 to 86° F). Prolonged exposure outside of that range may compromise the accuracy of the test results.

A footnote on COVID-19 in France: the country’s campaign to fully vaccinate its population against COVID-19 has reached 68.4% of the population and the nation now expects to reach 80% in September. Daily new infections by the virus appear to have reached a plateau at an average of about 28,000 per day, where it has been hovering for the last 3 weeks, whereas the R (reproduction) number has dropped to 1.04 both in Paris and nationally. Patients with COVID-19 in ICU facilities now number 1,953 nationally. It is too soon to judge whether the delta variant has been contained, but there are some signs that do encourage that hope.

S.A.

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