“I’ve been waiting for three hours”: in Paris and its surroundings, analysis laboratories are overwhelmed by requests for Covid-19 screening tests, very popular in these times of rebound of the epidemic or before go abroad.
Surrounded by endless queues, some labs have had to turn their organization upside down, setting up counters dedicated to “PCR” tests or recruiting security guards to calm the most nervous.
In Neuilly-sur-Seine, at the gates of the capital, around the Biogroup laboratory, it is the broom of cars and couriers who take samples.
Facing the entrance, forming a tail 300 meters long, many of them stamped their feet on Friday, hoping to be tested after a “contact case” in their entourage, the first symptoms or before leaving on vacation.
“I’m cold and I haven’t eaten this morning, I’ve been waiting for three hours, I can’t take it any longer,” grimaces Margaut Mainfroid, 21.
After a glance at the chrono of her telephone, Laetitia Pradal is, for her part, formal: she has been waiting “for 2h58 and 45 seconds” and had “prepared psychologically” for it. “I had a solid breakfast, a thermos and I came.”
At the end of the line, others fear the cancellation of a trip or not being able to board a plane now that several countries have classified Paris or Ile-de-France in the “red zone” of the epidemic.
“Not sure that the result will be before my flight tomorrow. In that case, I will not be able to take the plane. I did not think there would be so many people”, sighs Enguerran, 27, who must leave for vacation in Tunisia.
“We are in such a lack of preparation that it almost becomes neglect there”, gets carried away François Beau, who must take the plane to return home in Martinique on Sunday.
“It’s crazy, I’ve been here since 8:30, so almost 3 hours. And if I’m positive, I stay here? How? Where? At the hotel? Who pays? It’s not possible stress.”
The sampling is done in the assembly line, in less than 30 seconds, by two exhausted laboratory assistants who take turns since 8:00 am. One of them “can no longer” count customers but counted at least 400 the day before and expects “double today.”
In the longer term, the attendance should not weaken: the government is counting on an increase in tests with the objective of one million per week against 800,000 currently.
– No appointment available –
Similar scene at Place Daumesnil, south-east of Paris, where some came with their camping stool from 7:30 a.m.
Rue Lafayette, in the 9th arrondissement, the dozens of people who stand tall give the analysis laboratory an appearance of an Apple store one day when the iPhone is released.
At the end of the line, Mohamed Keita has tired eyes. “I have pain in my chest. I went to the doctor to do an X-ray and he told me to do a PCR test.” He’s only been waiting for an hour.
Further on, Marie-Noëlle has planned some reading. She must be screened before undergoing surgery: “I have been waiting since 2:15 am. I broke my teeth in two laboratories that had no more room for an appointment before September 10. The same on the Doctolib site.”
Some laboratories prefer to proceed by appointment only. “It helps to avoid queues and contact with other patients,” explains Frédérique Merle, from the CMETE laboratory, in the 2nd arrondissement. “We get a lot of calls but we are limited.”
“We have to make an appointment, because otherwise we will not get out of it,” also explains Koyan Sangaré, sampler at the Notre-Dame analysis laboratory.