‘Closed for vacation’: France faces new Covid-19 testing woes

With virus cases rising anew, France is struggling to administer enough tests to keep up with demand. One reason: Many testing labs are closed so that their staff can take summer vacation, just as signs of a second wave are building.

Doctors and experts say the vacation crunch is just part of a larger web of failures in France’s testing strategy – a strategy that even the government’s own virus advisory panel this week called disorganized and “insufficient.”“First, there is a lack of workers to do the testing. If we don’t ask all the health workers to be available by mobilizing all of them, there are just not enough people,” emergency services doctor Christophe Prudhomme told The Associated Press at his hospital in the Paris suburb of Bobigny.“And then it’s a matter of organization,” he said, urging regional health agencies “to organize testing so that it’s not the citizen who has to take his phone and try to call seven or eight labs in order to get an appointment that will take place only next week.”Testing troubles have plagued the U.S. and other countries too. But France’s August ritual of fleeing cities for weeks of holiday rest on seashores, mountainsides or grandma’s country house is an added tangle. “Closed for vacation” signs dangle from door after door across Paris this month, from bakeries to shoe shops and iconic cafes.
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