Dawn pa­trol: Parisians queue in dark for COVID tests

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE - -AFP

PARIS: While most of the French cap­i­tal was still asleep, Em­i­lie Rabaron was sit­ting on the front step of a clinic, in the pre-dawn dark­ness, try­ing to beat the queues for a COVID-19 test. By ar­riv­ing at 05:30, she had se­cured a place at the front of the queue and a chance of avoid­ing what could oth­er­wise be a day-long wait to get tested.

But she still had a long wait ahead of her: the COVID test­ing at the clinic in Chelles, an east­ern sub­urb of Paris, does not start un­til 10:00 a.m. Wrapped up against the morn­ing chill in a jacket, she passed the time by read­ing a book. "I know peo­ple who'd al­ready come here, who were here at 5:30 am and there were al­ready lots of peo­ple, so I came early," Rabaron, from the nearby sub­urb of Neuilly­sur-Marne, said on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

She said she wanted a test be­cause she had been in con­tact with an in­fected per­son. "I didn't want to wait too long, bear­ing in mind that else­where there are queues where peo­ple wait for five or six hours. So that's why I pre­ferred to come early." In France, as in some other coun­tries in Europe, the COVID-test­ing sys­tem has been un­der siege this month from pa­tients wor­ried they may be among the ris­ing num­ber of new in­fec­tions. Across Paris, long queues snake around the block from clin­ics that of­fer test­ing. Peo­ple who man­age to get tested of­ten re­port hav­ing to wait sev­eral days for the re­sult.

By the time dawn ar­rived in Chelles, Rabaron has been joined in the queue by around half a dozen peo­ple. Na­dia Beny­hia, a Chelles res­i­dent, came with her sis­ter. Their fa­ther is di­a­betic, and there­fore vul­ner­a­ble to COVID-19. They wanted to get tested to make sure they would not in­fect him with COVID. "There are too many peo­ple, the queue is long, so that's why we came at 6:00 a.m.," she said.

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