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Tested positive before flight - how long to stay in France?

We have been enjoying our vacation in Paris but have unfortunately tested positive for Covid this morning. We have been sniffling and suffering from what we assumed were our normal allergies plus irritation from cafe smoke. Luckily our symptoms are mild, we have no fever (we did pack a thermometer thanks to advice from these boards), but we have some questions as to next steps.

Our flight home was scheduled for April 8 - We tested Positive on April 7, but what we took to be allergy symptoms started March 31 (date noted because we were in windy Rouen). Do we need to isolate in France for 7 days from the positive test - or can that be counted from date of symptoms?
How soon could we fly home with a doctors attestation that we are free of symptoms?

If we can count from March 31, we would be 10 days from symptoms Saturday, April 9 - so I’m thinking a flight home Monday, April 11 would be feasible with a doctors letter assuming we remain fever free. But am I mistaken here?

If we need to isolate in France would the positive test April 7 mean we could leave isolation April 13 and fly April 14 (not sure if the day of test counts as day 1 of isolation). I also read that without symptoms you could stop isolating at day 5 with a negative test, but I have also heard people can test positive months after infection.

Thanks in advance for any insight. We have calls planned to the airline and insurance as well. As much as we hoped for the best and planned for the worst, I realize my plan for what to do if we actually tested positive hadn’t moved farther than the financial and work plan contingencies!

Posted by
802 posts

Sorry to hear that. Why not get a test for negative results after 10 days. All else is fudging and speculation. Will a letter from a doctor work with the requirements to enter the US? I would be skeptical of that until I hear otherwise. Is there a method to upload such a letter to the airlines before departure? A barcode? Or do you present this letter at check in for your flight?
Seems as if a negative test result would be a cleaner way to go.
According to your post get tested on April 9. If negative you are set to go.

Posted by
108 posts

treemoss2, waiting around for negative tests often does not work, since people may test positive for 90 days or longer. The certificate from a doctor is the way to go in this case. Many people have used this option.

Posted by
5009 posts

I'm so sorry your adventure concluded this way. It will be a great story- sometime in the future.
As a traveler about to leave soon, I ask this in the most non-judgemetal way possible: did you wear your masks religiously? I understand many Europeans are not masking much, so it's easy to follow suit. I'm just trying to decide what our mask-wearing mode will be.
Thanks so much and good luck!

Posted by
10298 posts

Corrected:
1. The US website Carol posted could work. :—) It says they will write a letter 10-days after (Correction) appearance of symptoms. Second, it’s $75.

  1. Otherwise, you have a 7-day French quarantine. Make an appt now with a French MD for day 8 for your letter. The French MD should be 25€. That’s what we paid our French doctor for our CDC letters of recovery.

3.You could test negative before. A friend recently tested negative five days after his positive test result.

  1. Can you have a MD count back to when symptoms started? Don’t know, but you could ask a doctor.

    1. My positive test day was considered day 1. That’s not the case in all countries.
Posted by
8525 posts

Bets, I think you are a bit presumptuous with your reply. I realize that you have first hand experience with testing positive in France and I don't want to discount that. I don't think that everything you said is necessarily accurate.

If anyone prefers to deal with a French physician, I am sure that they provide telemedicine services as well.

The key here is to reach out and get going on the certificate of recovery and to make sure you know what the current CDC requirements are.

Posted by
571 posts

Pat, we are in the same situation, leaving in 3 weeks and prioritizing staying Covid free. At the moment we are planning to always wear well fitted N95 masks inside and when using trains and buses and only get takeout to eat in our hotel room or sit outside at a less busy time. Both of our hotel rooms have opening windows for better ventilation which is important to us. One of us has increased risk factors (he will get his 4th dose before we go) but we also don’t want to put travel on hold for another year or two as this isn’t going away soon. Sigh.

Posted by
1340 posts

While this is a bit of a bummer, try to make it as positive of an experience as possible. This means a week more of delicious food. Use sites like Uber eats and Deliveroo for delivery options.

Posted by
54 posts

We're in the exact same boat as Claire -- one traveler at higher risk (but has had four vaccines plus Evusheld) and I just got my fourth. But we're still being careful as we can. We sprung for a smaller cabin (Premium Economy) and lounges, both firsts. No meals or drinks on the plane. And all Paris meals outside or in our apartment. This is our seventh trip so we're free to just savor the city and avoid crowded places like museums. Our mask strategy is N95s (double loops) on planes and taxis; KN95s (ear loops) out and about.

Like the OP I have made contingencies just in case -- even bought a new laptop for "WFH" Paris-style. Went big with insurance. I'm also booking this thread and others for all the valuable insights.

As an aside: We decided in December -- after canceling for the third time a trip originally booked for April 2020 -- to commit to this April. We looked at the pattern for surges and decided spring was our best shot. The new variant has thrown a curve but it's not as foreboding as Omicron looked back in December. That said -- if I didn't have a backlog of cancellations and credits that needed to be used up, would I book such a trip now? Highly doubtful. I wonder how many spring travelers are in the same boat (finally taking a booked/postponed trip but maybe wouldn't travel otherwise.)

Posted by
10298 posts

Carol, I reread the website and edited my answer. Since the company does base the letter on 10-days after symptom appearance, it would cut the time needed to quarantine. The $75 would be cost effective, saving money spent on hotels.

My US-based MD won't treat us by video outside the US due to licensing. My presumption is based on that, but I'll also assume this company is based in a state that allows overseas consults.

But the deal breaker was $75 instead of 25€. My son and granddaughter are testing tomorrow; if they test positive but are asymptomatic, this video-MD company was at the top of my list... until I saw the price. It wouldn't be cost effective for asymptomatic people.

Posted by
45 posts

The CDC issued new quarantine guidelines today. I wonder if this will change the testing policy to return to the USA:

If you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (meaning you have a full series of vaccinations and one booster dose) or have had COVID-19 in the last 90 days, the CDC says you do not need to quarantine unless you develop symptoms. You should also get tested for COVID-19 at least five days after exposure.

Posted by
6484 posts

Mask requirement on flights has only been extended til April 18
I expect updates then
Wouldn’t make much sense to drop masks and isolation but still require test

Posted by
8525 posts

I wrote to quickmd to directly ask if individuals who tested positive overseas could use their services to get the certificate of recovery required for re-entry after Betts raised some concerns. They were my plan for what to do if I test positive in a few weeks, so I wanted to confirm that my plan would work.

The short answer is "Yes". If you are overseas and test positive, you can use quickmd to get a certificate of recovery. I am going to just copy and paste the directions/comments they sent below.

"Thank you for reaching out.
We can provide you with documentation of recovery. You need to present your official written positive result during your appointment. We are currently ONLY accepting COVID results via PCR, Antigen, or Rapid. PROCTORED at-home test results may be accepted if you are able to provide printed results or a soft-copy. Test must be taken within 90 days from your appointment date. Home test kits and antibody tests will not be honored.

Please check with your airline of choice and destination if this would be accepted and if there is any more information they wish to be included in the certificate to avoid any issues. As per the CDC's new guidelines, you can be seen on the 5th day after you were tested positive of the virus provided you are asymptomatic or with improving symptoms.

You can book a video appointment by creating an account here or you can log in to your QuickMD account if you have already created one, schedule an appointment by finding a time that best works for you. Choose Urgent Care as the Appointment Type, Doctor's Note as the reason. You need to use your US home address and US contact number in your account to be able to see a provider. Each person requiring the note is to create an account with QuickMD and book an appointment under their respective accounts.

Within a few hours after the consultation, the doctor will email you the document to your email address as a PDF.

Posted by
10298 posts

Excellent update Carol. Five days based on US rules. Now, this goes back to the OP question--are they required to wait 7 because they are in France and that is the French rule? The rule would be negative test if they were in Italy or Germany.

Also, the video MD company wrote that the letter is based on an official test, not the start of symptoms, which would have benefited the OP.

So we are back to square one. Five days or seven? Perhaps, someone checking in in Paris can ask.

Posted by
70 posts

I am curious as to how you handled the cost of a last minute flight home? Those last minute tickets can be thousands. Did they give you a break on cost of flight home, since you missed your original flight. Thanks.

Posted by
14161 posts

Carol, thanks so much for your research. Yes, bookmarking this thread as well!

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you so much for all of the helpful replies and updates! I especially appreciate all the extra information regarding Quick MD, new US guidelines, and ease and cost of seeing French physicians.

This will be a good experience to look back on although I admit to being in a bit of a meltdown yesterday! So far we went ahead and rebooked our flights for April 15 - slightly higher ticket price, but not awful. We were able to extend our hotel for 2 additional nights. I also called our travel insurance to let them know about our positive tests, confirm how much coverage we have for trip interruption, and ask what else we need to do (basically save our receipts and make sure we have test documentation etc.)

Around 12:30 PM today I received a call from French social services, after confirming my absence of French language skills they explained that an English speaking colleague would call back. About 30 minutes later I received the call to confirm my identity, give me my positive Covid results, and explain my lockdown timeline, and release letter (my term not theirs). They explained I’m to stay isolated until April 13 (my test day was day 1), and that I would be free to leave April 14. They also advised that they would send a letter confirming I had isolated for 7 days and was free to leave France - the agent said the letter should satisfy my airline requirements but also laughed and noted airlines could be difficult. I asked if the agent could also confirm my husbands status on the letter, she did a search and said he was not showing up in her system, but that she would include his name on the document and I confirmed he has a different last name (and spelled it out).

The agent also asked if we had seen any friends or family while unmasked or been out unmasked. I explained we had only been unmasked to eat and had worn masks on all public transport, stores, etc. Shortly after the call I received the emailed letter authorizing Mr and Mrs “my last name”, with no mention of my husbands surname, noting that our end of quarantine was April 13.

I’ve been calling the number she gave me for any follow up issues, to see about getting my husbands name updated but have yet to get through. Our current plan will be to get a doctors attestation to make sure we do not have any issues with Our Delta flight.

So far, my husband has not received any outreach, I believe I ended up getting the touscovid app when trying to save my test results (phone issue), which is probably how I was reached so quickly.

Our next adventure will be figuring out where we will stay next. Just FYI, I did mention the the French social services agent that we would need to change hotels and she had no concerns beyond noting she couldn’t help with that, but to call for anything else.

We are excited to try some food delivery apps, something I’ve avoided back home.

Also, to the poster asking about our mask wearing - the short answer is yes, we always masked in transit, indoors, and outdoors when we couldn’t keep our distance. The more complicated answer is that we did unmask to eat, and because we are in a hotel most meals were had in restaurants. We had a lot of meals at off hours, and avoided anyplace very crowded (no packed Marais bistros), but could not do as much outdoor dining as we planned because of weather and cafe smokers, and some restaurants were definitely full. We also found that most but not all restaurant goers, shoppers, and wait staff are unmasked at this point - that said, no one looks at you strangely for masking. I will note mask compliance on public transport is very good.

In hindsight - I’d try to bring as many rapid tests as possible and just test every few days to stay on top of things, I’d also recommend an apartment stay so you really can control the environment.

Thank you again for all the wonderfully responsive posters on this board and for sharing information so generously.

Posted by
14161 posts

Thank you for the update! It sounds like things are looking up and I can totally understand a bit of panic when the test result came back positive.

I think your recommendations are excellent, especially to test yourself as you go so there are no surprises.

Thank you for being Ok with sharing how you all masked.

Enjoy Deliveroo, lol!! Hope you will have no problem finding another hotel and that you will continue to update us as this evolves.

Posted by
10298 posts

Thank you for reporting back. The question is answered: 7 days.

The call from the French Healthcare (Sécurité sociale) representative with written follow-up instructions is what we had in November. During January and February, there were so many positive cases that calls were suspended. Glad they have the time to call people again.

Yes, you are right that you will need the doctor’s letter for the US. BTW, the airline read it carefully but US passport never glanced at it, knowing we had been screened by the airline.

I love your attitude—new, learning experience. Bravo for making lemonade.