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Covid-19 screening strategies in health and medico-social establishments

Early detection of active circulation of SARS-CoV-2 virus in healthcare settings and medico-social establishments is an important issue in the pandemic control strategy. It must enable the rapid implementation of management measures to limit the transmission of the virus and protect all staff and patients/residents, in particular those at risk of severe forms of COVID-19.

The High Council of Public Health (HCSP) evaluated the various available techniques of sampling and analysis as well as current practices based on published studies and national and international recommendations.

The HCSP recommends:

  • not to set up periodic surveillance by screening tests using nasopharyngeal swab in healthcare settings and medico-social establishments,
  • to encourage healthcare professionals to self-report and screening in case of exposure in high-risk situations,
  • to strengthen contact tracing,
  • to facilitate RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 screening by delivering the results within 48 hours,
  • Furthermore, the HCSP considers that:
    • the standard for microbiological technique remains RT-PCR on nasopharyngeal samples,
    • the technique of pooling samples is not recommended,
    • serological tests are not useful for screening purposes.

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